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The House Called Fallingwater


By Joe Novak

Frank Lloyd Wright became America’s most famous architect but not until he designed and built the Fallingwater house. His designs were inspired by nature and intended to blend with it. The use of natural woods, stone and concrete allows the house to fit comfortably in its wooded and boulder surroundings. So much has been written about this house that saying something unique would be a stretch of my wordsmith skills. Grammar experts are cringing at the thought that I just referred to myself as a “wordsmith.” I am still a legend in my own mind, you know!  

My wife and I are trying to check a few things off my “Bucket List,” so visiting sights within a few hours driving distance is our goal. I have always had a desire to visit this Pennsylvania landmark, so I ordered tickets in advance since tours always sell out. I made room reservations at a local resort, taking advantage of a couple’s get-away promotion. One never wants the romance to escape a marriage, even at our age! Doing things as a couple, that we both enjoy, is the glue that holds our relationship together; always keeping in mind, happy wife, happy life!

The Fallingwater building project started in 1936 and was completed in 1939. It was commissioned by Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann of the Kaufmann Department Stores in Pittsburgh. It was opened to the public in 1964 after Edgar Kaufmann Jr. donated the land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservatory. More than 5.5 million visitors have toured this majestic masterpiece since then. My only regret is that the rhododendron had already bloomed and it must be a sight to behold considering the number and size of these plants.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s stature was short, often wearing elevated shoes. This must account for the low ceilings that give the house a slight claustrophobic feel. He was also not a genius when it came to engineering, having taken only one course in architectural school. The house had some extensive renovation work when it was found to be leaning into Bear Run Creek. The renovations cost $11.5 million in 2001 ($15.5 million in today’s money) a considerable amount since the original cost (in today’s money) was 2.5 million.

The Kaufman’s had a less than amicable relationship with Wright, often cursing at each other in letters, which were the communication option at that time. Makes one wonder if they used proper cursing etiquette; the difference is coming off eloquently or as a buffoon… few can achieve eloquence when cursing! 

I can’t help but wish I could tour this place in private without the distracting crowds. Taking in the serenity of the place with only the sounds of the birds and the flowing water must be bliss. Imagine living here, surrounded only by nature, being lulled to sleep at night by the sound of water flowing over the boulders and falls.

Now onto the next adventure. Such a big world, so many interesting places to see. I pray I have a few more years of travel in my future before this body says, “That’s enough Joe. I am done.” 

Joe Novak retired from PGS,Inc. a manufacturing company he sold in 2005. He has written more than 150 articles for The Middlefield Post and is active in his community and church. Joe’s articles are based on his life and business experiences and though he tries to be as accurate as possible, he recommends you contact an expert.


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