Thursday, August 16: Today we venture to Fallingwater, the famous vacation house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 for the Edgar J. Kaufmann family. Edgar J. Kaufmann was a Jewish German-American businessman and philanthropist who owned and managed Kaufmann’s Department Store, the most notable store in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania in the 20th century. According to our guide, Kaufmann’s was eventually bought out and today is now known as Macy’s.
Fallingwater is a house dedicated to outdoor living – an escape from the stressful lifestyle that the Kaufmanns lived in Pittsburgh. The house is perched over the Bear Run waterfalls in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. It seems to grow organically right out of the boulders and mountainside and hangs confidently over the creek. Steps lead directly from the amazing open great room down to the creek, where the Kaufmanns could walk down and dangle their feet into the cool rushing water in the summer months.
Local laborers built the main and guest houses between 1936-39, under the direction of a self-taught builder and three of Wright’s apprentices. Known as a modern masterpiece, its reinforced concrete cantilevers extending out from a masonry core expressed a new freedom in architecture. The family used Fallingwater until 1963, when Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., put it in the hands of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
We take a tour of the house, but once inside, we are not allowed to take pictures. The boys love the bedrooms, the open terraces, and the great room with the giant iron pot over the fireplace where the Kaufmanns could brew and serve apple cider all day. I love the Kaufmann’s favorite autumn colors of orange, red, and gold, Mrs. Kaufmann’s Tiffany collection and the Japanese block prints collected by Mr. Kaufmann. We all love the wide expanses of glass walls, where a person can feel one with nature. We love the cantilevered design of the bookshelves, the seamless design of the glass walls into the rock walls, the avoidance of corners. We love the sounds of the water, the cool breeze coming through the windows, the simple design of the furnishings. We are admonished not to touch anything or to sit down on any of the furniture, but it is hard to remember not to do this as the design is so inviting!
This post is in response to FrizzText’s Story Challenge: Letter F. He writes: Do you have a story or a short reflection tagged with the letter “F” to share? For example I’ve written about FEAR and FIRE, FISHES and FUNERALS, FRIEND or FOE, FORTRESS or FRAGILE, FLAT IRONS or FRANCE, F-86 Air Force FIGHTER or FIAT 500, FACE or FEET, FUN or FOOTBALL, FASHION or FARMING, FOAM or FLAMENCO, FATHER or FROG, FREE-BIRD or FRUSTRATION, FLAG or FIELD etc. – I’m sure you’ll find an own story or a short reflection tagged with “F”! Feel free to add in the comments the link to your personal interpretation of the letter “F”!!!