By Joan Larsen
Can a person really fall in love with a house? I have. . . and I want to share my discovery with you. It seems almost like a fairy tale: there once was a private home called Fallingwater, hidden in the forests of southwestern Pennsylvania, that even today I wish were mine. I do. For me, it was love at first sight. I believe you may feel the same. This year may be the perfect time for a small detour on any getaway you may be planning between the East Coast and Chicago. I believe we all love “secret places” – places that often are the ones that still turn in our minds once our trips are long past.
If this sounds like you, well then, you must put Fallingwater on your own list — for it is breathtaking!
Way back in 1935, a Pittsburgh tycoon, Edgar Kaufmann, contacted famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, proposing a small mountain retreat near the waterfalls of Bear Run, southeast of Pittsburgh. “I want you to live with the waterfall, not just look at it”, the outspoken Wright said. And it was in this natural setting that the architect’s most famed work took shape.
Smithsonian magazine tells us that Fallingwater should be on everyone’s Life List. It definitely should be on yours. . . for Wright captured the perfect essence of our own private desires to live with nature, to dwell in a forested place, and to be at home in the natural world.
As I believe that pictures are worth a thousand words, I will let them speak for themselves. But I believe we all will be in awe of the cantilevered concrete terraces hovering some 30 feet above the Bear Run waterfalls. The incessant sound of water permeates the house, yet somehow, it never overwhelms.
A boulder juts through the living room and doubles as a hearth. Low ceilings direct attention outside. Wright’s vanishing corner windows, done nowhere else, open outward from wall corners, leaving no panes to obstruct the view. Pure genius.
The floors themselves, highly waxed stone, given the impression of a wet stream bed, an illusion complemented by the burbling of the stream below.
Now owned by Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the house appears exactly like it was – the Picasso, Hiroshige and Rivera prints and paintings on the walls; original furnishings on the floor, and rows of the original books – still in place.
Just 90 minutes from Pittsburgh, you will find it as you follow the yellow brick roads of winding scenery — beauty that cannot be missed — before you come upon Fallingwater . . . . a house of such warmth that seem so vivid and so alive. So many visitors have found it since it was open to the public in 1963, so it is important to call for that advance reservation for the guided tour that is a “must”.
I have returned many times, often acting as “tour guide” to those who will experience this wondrous home for the first time. For me – in my heart of hearts – it remains magical. Fallingwater is a work of art beyond any ordinary measure, lived totally in nature.
Do come, and be prepared for the treat of treats of your journey!!!
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”