Two years ago, I traveled to Mill Run, PA with my friend Donna to visit Fallingwater, an amazing home by Frank Lloyd Wright, built for the Kaufmann family. The Kaufmanns owned a department store of the same name and liked to spend weekend in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh. Frank Lloyd Wright is probably America’s most famous architect. He designed the house and built it in the latter part of the 1930s.
I’d always wanted to visit this home. Thankfully it’s a National Historic Landmark and is safe from demolition, unlike a lot of Mid-Century Modern architecture (including other houses by Wright). Who would tear down an amazing piece of history–art you can live in?
The multilevel home is long and linear and seems to float over the falls. Inside, it’s exquisite, yet unassuming. The ceilings are low and the rooms are open. Light floods in and it’s hard to tell where the walls stop and nature begins. That was the idea: To bring nature in and enjoy living with the falls.
The Kaufmanns were world travellers. They collected art from all over the world and the decor in the house reflects their eclectic style. You might see a modern Picasso painting in one room, a 200-year-old Persian rug in another, and a 15th Century Madonna statue in yet another.
Donna and I drove from my parent’s house in Cambridge, Ontario through Buffalo, NY and on to Pittsburgh. After a fun weekend traipsing though galleries and shopping districts, we made the two-hour drive to Fallingwater. We wandered through the house and grounds on a guided tour, snapping shot after shot of iconic art, furniture, and the architecture that we’d only read about in university. It was an amazing experience.
The department store is now a Macy’s, and the Kaufmanns are long gone, but their legacy, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, will live on in the woods in Mill Run, PA. If you ever get a chance to visit, you won’t regret it.