Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fallingwater, Mill Run, PA

I’ve always enjoyed looking at and drawing buildings, and designing Lego and Lincoln Log houses. I was also lucky enough to take an interior design class in High School.  The options for electives were awesome at Hibbing High School back in the 1970’s.  During this class, we took a walking tour of the neighborhoods around the high school and identified the multitude of beautiful architecture styles in Hibbing.  From that class, I took a love of thinking about the people those buildings housed. Today, the people of the world and their structures often catch my attention.  I like taking pictures of barns, houses, and even quirky looking businesses and signs.  I love seeing how fence lines and gardens accentuate the structures.  I think about the lifestyles of the people who live and work in these buildings.

Growing up as Joy Wright, and the daughter of an expert carpenter, Ed, I loved the idea that dad might have been related to Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, as both are from Wisconsin.  It became a dream of mine to visit the ultimate mid-century modern house called Fallingwater. This house, once the Kaufmann Residence, is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.

Fallingwater was built on top of a series of cascading waterfalls on Bear Run in the Allegheny Mountains. A beautiful choice stylistically, but the location led to a series of architectural challenges and some extensive mold problems. The fact that the location on the bank of the river was not large enough to support the foundation of a typical Wright house is what prompted the cantilevered design. The original owners used it as a weekend home until 1963, when it was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and it’s been open to the public as a museum since 1964.

Our visit was planned a few days in advance as you can’t get same day tickets. Kathy bought ours online.  We stayed at one of the many beautiful Pennsylvania state parks, Ohiopyle. This is a great place for hiking and biking.  Kathy learned the ride down was much easier than back up the hills in the area.
The little town of Ohiopyle had great ice cream parlors and hosts several places for tourist collectibles.  We enjoyed the bridge above the river and watching children and dogs playing in the cool water below.

On our tour day, a light rain threatened a perfect day for a hike in the PA thick.  Luckily, we got enough sunshine to get some nice photos and enjoy the beauty of the site the house is built on.  The tour starts at the visitor’s center and you walk through the wood alongside the creek which widens into a stream that a bridge crosses above and beside the lower levels of the home.  Seeing is believing how glorious this location truly is.

The house feels lived in and is filled with the nuances of day to day life.  Even the son’s library is intact and gives you a good idea about him as a person. He grew up to be an architect himself.  You aren’t allowed to photograph inside the house but you can walk the grounds and take as long as you want on the grounds after your tour inside. Most people are interested in these views anyway.

I just wanted to pack my bags and move in.