Fallingwater is a home that is built over a waterfall. At one time part of the stream that feeds the waterfall was channeled through the interior of the home. This was still true in the early 1980’s. Fallingwater was built between the year 1936 and 1939. It was so unusual at the time that it gained instant fame. The home does not appear to be on the solid ground but appears to just stretch out over a thirty-foot waterfall.
Fallingwater Designed for Edgar Kaufmann Family
The home was designed for the Kaufman family of Pittsburg, PA and owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store, considered a very upscale store to shop at in the 1930’s. Today the Kaufmann Store is part of the Macy’s Chain of department stores. Edgar Kaufman, wife Liliane, and son Edgar Jr. used the property on which Fallingwater now sits as a vacation property. At first, it was a summer camp for the Kaufmanns Dept. Store employees, then later it was decided to turn the property into a country estate for the Kaufmann family. They chose Frank Lloyd Wright to be the architect of the home they wished to build there. Frank Lloyd Wright is also the designer of the Guggenheim Art Museum.
Edgar Kauffman Jr loved the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and had studied under him at Wright’s School under the Taliesin Fellowship. Wright surprised the Kaufmanns with his design for Fallingwater, with the somewhat radical idea of building the home over the falls, to become part of them rather than build on another site where the falls could merely be viewed. In building the home over the falls, the soothing sound of the falling water could continuously be heard within the home.
Kaufmanns and Wright Shared Deep Love of Nature
Both Frank Lloyd Wright and his clients the Kaufmanns had a deep love for nature and that partnership led to the building of this unique home that became part of the natural surroundings rather than a mere intruding structure amidst the beauty of nature.
Fallingwater was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. In 1991 it was named “the best all-time work of American Architecture” by members of the American It is also listed on the Smithsonian’s list of 38 must-see places. Fallingwater had its problems in the past. It needed repairs due to some errors in the original building and some miscalculations.
Today Fallingwater Managed by The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Today Fallingwater is managed by “The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy”. They manage and maintain the property and protect it as well as run it as a public recreation site and an educational facility. They also host events, special tours, and meetings, conferences, and Weddings. This year they are celebrating the 75th year of Fallingwater’s construction. More on the location and travel and visitors guides can be found here.
Fallingwater is just gearing up to start opening for their main tourist season in March. It has to be on the “must-see” list for anyone planning to visit Western, PA anytime soon. The 75 year anniversary is also a good time to go and see this wonder of the marriage of art and nature.