American's most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, created many outstanding designs across America during his lifetime. And without a doubt his most famous is the breathtaking "Fallingwater" in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. Built partially over a rushing waterfall on Bear Run Creek, the scenic beauty of the house in this natural setting is a site to behold and well worth the trip to this remote area of Pennsylvania.
Wright was contracted to design the weekend getaway home for Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, owners of the Kaufmann Department Store chain. Its stunning design was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and it has received numerous awards in recognition of its historical and architectural impact on American design.
Getting to the location is somewhat of a trek. Take Pennsylvania Turnpike to Exit 91, Donegal, and then go east on Route 31 to Route 381. Follow Route 381 for 17 miles and follow the signs to Fallingwater. The entrance to the park will be on the right side of the road. Travel time is around 3-3 1/2 hours from Akron.
To ensure access to the home, it is recommended that you purchase tickets ahead of time. This may be done at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-724-329-8501. Photography of the inside of the house is not permitted, though outside photos are. Children under six are not permitted. The facility is not handicap accessible. Depending on the number of tours the wait to get in may be relatively short or on days of heavy traffic may take somewhat longer.
The main building houses the ticket center and information on the home. There is also a well stocked gift shop and the Falling Water restaurant. For those who would like something more local, there is a quaint family run diner, "Brenda's Family Restaurant, a few miles down the road that serves good, simple, country cooking, where you can either order from the menu or from the buffet at reasonable prices.
Once you have parked and checked in you then walk a short distance to the bridge leading over Bear Run Creek to Fallingwater. If you are lucky and the creek is running at full height you will be greeted by the sound of rushing water and a visual series of waterfalls that boggle the mind. Even when the creek is not at full height, it is still an awesome sight to see the cascading waterfalls next to the house. Wright was famous for integrating his designs into nature and Fallingwater is his most outstanding design in this regard.
Because of the nature of the terrain, Wright used a number of innovative techniques in the overall design and construction of the house. A cantilevered structure was used to facilitate the construction and layout of the house over the waterfall. The home was completed in in 1938 at a total cost of $155,000, which today would be around $2.7 million. The house stayed in the family name until 1963 when Kaufmann's son, Edgar Junior, donated it and the surrounding property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
There is something about walking up to this grand design in this isolated parted of the Laurel Highlands. It is visually stunning with the cascading waterfall and the lush vegetation surrounding the area. Despite the sound of the rushing water there is also a peaceful tranquility as you walk the grounds and explore the surrounding terrain. The house itself reflects Wright's desire to use natural light and openness to create a stunning visual panoramic view of nature.