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One of the greatest American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright found inspiration in the landscape of the Laurel Highlands in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Three of his homes can be found in the area, each capturing the magnificent surrounding natural landscapes in the architecture. These homes are not-to-miss destinations. Fallingwater®, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece and one of his most well-known, and Kentuck Knob, a beautiful privately-owned home, are open for tours, while the Duncan House offers the rare opportunity for overnight stays. Explore the Wright homes and find your Usonian, organic architectural inspiration in the Laurel Highlands.
In 1935, the Kaufmann family, owners of the Kaufmann Department Stores, now part of the Macy’s franchise, commissioned the noted architect to design a summer home. The house was to be built along Bear Run, a favorite swimming spot of the Kaufmann family and escape from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh. The Kaufmanns wanted a rustic, airy vacation home beside a picturesque waterfall on the property. Wright, knowing that the family loved the waterfall, decided to make it part of the home.
Completed in 1937, Fallingwater blends seamlessly with the landscape, fully expressing Wright’s concept of “organic architecture.” The home looks like it grew naturally out of Bear Run. The structure is based on three steel-reinforced concrete pads, cantilevering the house over the waterfall. Fallingwater projects outward above the shimmering cascade, seemingly suspending in mid-air creating the dramatically elegant home.
National Geographic Traveler magazine named Fallingwater one of its “50 Places of a Lifetime.” In the decades since its completion, Fallingwater has been visited by millions of people, including Albert Einstein and the artist Frida Kahlo. Tour Fallingwater all year-round, and experience the profound genius of Wright for yourself.
Less than ten miles from Fallingwater sits Frank Lloyd Wright’s mountain house, Kentuck Knob. Built in the early fifties on a bluff 2,050 feet above sea level, the home stands just below the crest of the mountain with which it shares its name. Just beyond the home’s back terrace, visitors can see an incredible panorama along a stretch of the Youghiogheny River Gorge with the surrounding wooded mountainsides.
This one story Usonian (meaning affordable for the average American) home was designed on a hexagonal module. It blends almost seamlessly into the dramatic and serene scenery, appearing to be part of the mountain itself. Built with nearly no right angles, featuring only two in the bathroom, this unique home also features an extensive art collection, including the sculpture garden on the ground, which is on display for visitors.
The Duncan House, built in 1957 for Donald and Elizabeth Duncan, was painstakingly and lovingly disassembled in 2004, moved from its original location in Lisle, IL, to its present site at Polymath Park in Acme. The home was reopened in 2007, and has since become one of only 6 Wright homes available for overnight rentals.
Another example of his Usonian style, the home is one of 60 similar designs he built in the mid to late fifties. Also on the property are two other homes, designed by Wright’s apprentice, Peter Berndtson. The Duncan House also offers tours in addition to the Wright-inspired restaurant, Tree Tops, on site, creating the perfect Wright experience.