Scenically rising and falling over 3,000 square miles an hour-plus southeast of Pittsburgh, the Laurel Highlands abound with historic, cultural and natural treasures. Of these, few anywhere on Earth can match the visual and emotional power of Fallingwater, one of the three Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in the region.
With global bucket-list appeal, Wright’s masterwork, his only major publicly accessible project with furnishings, artwork, and setting intact, is guaranteed to inspire.
After registering at the tree-canopied visitor center (docent-led tours go in groups of around 14), the anticipation grows on the meandering path leading to the house. Then it appears, surreal to contemplate, breathless to behold.
Commissioned in 1936 by Pittsburgh department-store magnate Edgar Kaufmann and his wife, Wright’s set of cantilevered terraces seem to float over the waterfall below. Inside, the house, completed in 1939, contracts and expands, by design, to invite exploration.
Every single element of Wright’s organic architecture has a purpose—and tells a story. Only the In-Depth tour permits indoor photography, but exterior shots are allowed on all tours. The Barn at Fallingwater is available for private functions.
In 1954, dairy and ice-cream magnate I.N. Hagan commissioned a Wright home in the area. Wedged atop a high bluff about six miles from Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob’s geometry is based on the hexagon and triangles. Guided tours of the 58-cornered home are yet another departure from the ordinary.
“Kentuck Knob and its grounds are the perfect space for businesses to transform the walls of the traditional conference room into an open and relaxing space that pushes and supports creativity and discussion,” explained Mary Ann Perkins, manager of operations and visitor services.
Set on 89 acres, the park-like grounds feature outdoor installations including a section of the Berlin Wall; group programs include seasonal farm-to-table dinners.
Time did not permit a visit to Wright’s Duncan House. Built in 1957, the home was relocated in 2007 from Illinois to Polymath Park Resort, about 22 miles north of Fallingwater. Offering tours and lodgings for six, it’s one of only seven Wright homes in the world accommodating overnight stays.