8th May 2018
‘I want you to live with the waterfall, not just to look at it, but for it to become an integral part of your lives. Frank Lloyd Wright to the Kaufmanns’ 1935
Edgar J Kaufmann Snr commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright that year to design a weekend home for his family. The Pittsburgh department store magnate enabled the famed architect to create a stunning home entirely perfect, tranquil and yet bold which fitted perfectly into its stunning setting in the mountains of South West Pennsylvania. The area, 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, Laurel Highlands in Mill Run, Fayette County. Today it is considered amongst the most important homes built for an individual family in the world, now designated a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure, it is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The power of the design and its integration into its surroundings is breathtaking. Sitting not so much on but in the heart of a waterfall, the sandstone property uses materials from the estate’s quarry.
Lloyd-Wright completed the building of Fallingwater in 1939. The house became a fitting statement for a highly successful family. Edgar Jonas Senior ‘EJ’ and his wife Liliane made it one of their family homes.
Edgar Kaufmann Jnr inherited the house and he enjoyed spending time there until the early 1960s. Looking to the future wellbeing of the house, Edgar Jnr realised he needed a plan. He did not have a family and understood that the house needed to be placed in a situation where it could be protected for future generations. He made the decision to donate it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
Today it operates as a museum and is lovingly cared for. What is equally extraordinary is that the home, in its entirety, was donated. Today a visitor not only experiences the house but a sense of what it looked like when it was the Kaufmann family’s home.
“Fallingwater is a great blessing – one of the great blessings to be experienced here on earth, I think nothing yet ever equalled the coordination, sympathetic expression of the great principle of repose where forest and stream and rock and all the elements of structure are combined so quietly that really you listen not to any noise whatsoever although the music of the stream is there. But you listen to Fallingwater the way you listen to the quiet of the country…”
Frank Lloyd Wright Talk to the Taliesin Fellowship, May 1, 1955
Photo Credits: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy