We spent most of the day driving to Donegal, a small town in Western PA located about 20 miles north of Fallingwater. As you can see in the pictures, PA countryside is quite pretty. The trip itself is about 6 hours. It took us probably 8hrs due to stopping for gas, restroom breaks, and of course lunch at Cracker Barrel!
We started our day at around 11pm. On our way to Fallingwater, we took a quick excursion to see the 1000 lb Pumpkin. I can’t say seeing this rather obese Pumpkin changed my life in any way, but it did make for some interesting photos. Then it was off to Fallingwater. The moment we stepped out of our car, we could hear the river in the distance. Our first stop was to the visitor’s center which is built like a wheel with a central hub (main desk) and smaller hubs that spoke out from the center. The smaller hubs hold restrooms, the cafe, a children’s daycare, and the museum store. The entire visitors center is built on pillars that sets it above the ground in order to preserve the grounds.
We followed the trail to the house and as we got closer we could see the sandstone terraces start to appear. You know that feeling you get when you finally see something that you’ve wanted to see for a long time, and it meets or surpasses your expectations? That was Fallingwater for me. The house is shrouded by yellow, red, and orange leaves (the sugar in the trees turns the leaves that color) . We took a self guided tour first (exterior of the house) and got some nice pictures.
The actual tour was good. Just the right length, but now I kind of wish we did the in depth tour, as they let you go into publicly restricted rooms as well as letting you take photos inside the house. It was interesting learning about the family as well. The Kaufmans and their contributions to the design of the house.
- The house cost $155K to build (originally budgeted at only 30K). Keep in mind houses were being built for around 4-8K.
- Frank Lloyd Wright designed not only the house, but most of the furnishings inside which included built in desks and sofas as well as a beautiful shelving.
- FLW wanted to break the “box” concept and introduced corner windows that opened out from the corner, virtually erasing the “corner” line of intersecting walls. (See pic)
- The house used these three basic elements: Steel, Concrete, and Sandstone.
- Fallingwater was the family’s weekend home from 1937 to 1963. In 1963, Kaufmann, Jr. donated the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In 1964 it was opened to the public as a museum and nearly four million people have visited the house since (as of July 2006). It currently hosts more than 120,000 visitors each year. (Thank you Wiki)
After the tour, Amy and I sat there for a long time, marveling at house and it’s surroundings.
After a nice long day at Fallingwater, we went on the hunt for a nice dinner. Our first choice was this Mexican grill in Ligonier, PA, about 10 miles north of Donegal. When we got there, we discovered that the Mexican Grill had closed a few months before and was now a Pizza joint. So, we decided to walk around Ligonier’s main street which consisted of only a few blocks with a pretty bandstand in the center of town. We walked over to a little cafe that we found on the map but it was small and kind of depressing looking. On our way over there Amy and I smelled something good in the air, so we walked across the street to a great place called the Ligonier Tavern where we had a delicious dinner. When in doubt, follow your nose. It always knows!