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Side Trip to Fallingwater

Fallingwater, a private residence improbably suspended over a waterfall, is unquestionably a masterpiece from one of America's most important architects.

In 1936, Edgar J. Kaufmann, who had made a fortune as owner of Kaufmann's, Pittsburgh's premier department store, hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design a weekend retreat for his family on a piece of land in Mill Run. Wright's design incorporated much of what was already on the site, including rocks, trees, and a rushing creek. Battles of will between Kaufmann and Wright over the details of the design became legendary. Wright wanted to cover the concrete parapets of the house with gold leaf; Kaufmann didn't. Kaufmann wanted a swimming pool on one of the balconies; Wright didn't. Despite their many differences, though, they produced a grand house.

Tours of the house are essential not just for what you see but for the stories you hear.

To get to Fallingwater, take the Pennsylvania Turnpike southeast from Pittsburgh to Donegal Exit, then take Route 31 east to Route 381 south and look for signs; 724-329-8501.

Bonus Dwelling

A few miles southwest of Fallingwater is another Frank Lloyd Wright house, Kentuck Knob. Typical of the Usonian style Wright developed between 1930 and his death in 1959, the design for Kentuck Knob emphasizes openness with a single-floor plan without basement or attic. A strict triangular grid pattern makes rooms appear larger than they really are. Tours for up to 15 people are conducted year-round, weather permitting. It's wise to call ahead for information. Chalk Hill/Ohiopyle Road, off Route 381; 724-329-1901.

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