“Give me the luxuries in life and I will willingly do without the necessities.” -Frank Lloyd Wright.
Western PA may not have the largest concentration of FLW houses in the country, but it surely has the best. His most famous work is just two hours from Grove City, as is one of the few FLW houses where you can stay overnight. You don’t even have to be an architecture aficionado to enjoy an entire weekend of his work.
We’ve already mentioned that a road trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is a necessity in the fall, but the site really deserves a visit for every season. Perfectly perched atop a waterfall and surrounded by nature, it is a fully different experience depending on the season. Built for Pittsburgh’s Kaufmann family, the home is now a museum to what is considered the most important piece of American architecture. While fall is a blast of color, winter is a blast of white that perfectly frames the house. In the summer the waterfall can be deafening, but in the winter it’s often frozen, making the site eerily silent. If you’re really lucky this winter, you’ll get there after a freshly fallen snow. Recommendation: the basic tour is $25. You can instead become a member of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for $30, which includes 1 Fallingwater Admission, plus 10% discount at the museum shop, a free subscription to CONSERVE Magazine, plus you feel like you’re doing something good. Worth it!
Just 10 minutes away is a second of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces. Far less famous than Fallingwater, it still is well worth the visit. Kentucky Knob sits atop the Laurel Highlands near Uniontown. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home while working hard on New York City’s Guggenheim Museum. At 86, it would be one the last homes he designed. It is also one of the very few pieces that he actually signed. Today, Kentucky Knob is owned by England’s Lord Palumbo who still lives in the home from time to time.
What makes the Pittsburgh area incredibly unique is that you can actually sleep in one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes. While it sadly isn’t Fallingwater, theres four homes to choose from in the Polymath Park Resort. One, The Duncan House, is a FLW designed home built for a middle class family. It was originally built in Illinois, and was moved to Pennsylvania because it was under threat of demolition. Two of the other houses, the Blum and Balter homes, were designed by FLW apprentices. The homes clearly have his design aesthetic and you still get the full experience. They’re anywhere from $199 to $399 a night, but sleep up to 8 people, making it quite affordable! There’s also a FLW inspired restaurant on the property.
Did you know FLW almost designed “The Point” in Pittsburgh? His 1947 design would have made Pittsburgh a very different place (For better or worse? You decide).