Road Trip Guide: Fallingwater

Fallingwater, one of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright's best-known works and considered a masterpiece, is seen over Bear Run waterfall in Big Run.
Fallingwater, one of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright's best-known works and considered a masterpiece, is seen over Bear Run waterfall in Big Run. AP file photo

When Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s most-celebrated architects, designed the mountain home known as Fallingwater, he said to its owners that he didn’t want them to just look at the waterfalls from time to time; he wanted them to live with the waterfalls.

Fallingwater has come to be an iconic image of American architecture, and may seem like it is worlds away, but located in Fayette County among the picturesque Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, it’s a road trip that offers boundless opportunity for anyone interested in history, art, architecture and wilderness.

Wright designed Fallingwater in 1935, and the home was completed in 1938 as a summer residence for the Edgar Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh.

Today, the architectural marvel attracts people from around the world to walk through and around the home built right into a waterfall.

“It’s one of our most internationally known places,” said Julie Donovan, vice president of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, www.laurelhighlands.org, adding that more than 175,000 people visit the home every year.

Fallingwater blends the engineering and art of high-end homebuilding with a quiet mountain creek hike. Not to mention it’s spectacularly close to a whole region of outdoor, historic and other attractions.

“(People) don’t just come here, see Fallingwater and turn around to go home,” Donovan said.

Instead, they stay to see a region of Pennsylvania blessed with more than you can do in one weekend. But if you want to try seeing it all on one road trip, go for it.

Did you know ...

•  The Kaufmann family, owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store (now part of Macy’s), owned Fallingwater until 1963 when they entrusted it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, http://waterlandlife.org

•  The main home was built between 1936 and 1938 for $155,000 (including the architectural fees), which is about the same as $2.6 million in today’s money, according to the BLS inflationary calculator.

•  Fallingwater has 5,330 square feet of space, including nearly half of that as external terraces.

•  Only two colors were used to paint Fallingwater: ocre for the concrete and Wright’s signature Cherokee red for the steel beams.

•  The house underwent a 2002 renovation to improve the cantilever system that keeps it standing and to prevent further deterioration.

•  Two other Wright homes are located in Pennsylvania: Kentuck Knob, a short distance from Fallingwater, and the Duncan House in Acme, about 26 miles away. Duncan House was built in 1957 in Lisle, Ill., and relocated to Polymath Park Resort. It was opened for overnight stays by the resort in 2007 and is the only one in the area allowing such accommodations,



While you’re there ...

•  June 14: Antiques on the Diamond, Ligonier, www.visitligonier.com

•  June 14: Five Alarm Mountain Madness Chili Cook-Off & Brewfest, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort,



•  July 3-6: Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival,



•  July 25-26: Coleman Station Bluegrass Festival in Friedens,



•  Aug. 23: Twilight tour of Fallingwater and its grounds,