We got to Fallingwater first and were set to take a guided tour with a small group of about 10. We all gathered at the visistor’s center, and when they called our group, we walked down the long gravel driveway to the house. On approach, you don’t really see the waterfall, but you do get to a small bridge that leads to the entrance of the house where you can look down on the stream that runs at the top of the platform, and you can see a floating platform with steps leading down from the house where the owners could sit and dangle their feet into the running water.
It was a beautiful late spring day and everything was very green. And though I had seen many photos of the house over the years, visiting it really felt like something new and different. One thing I was surprised about what how small most of the interior rooms were. The bedrooms and bathrooms were quite small, as were the hallways, but we learned that Wright designed that way — to compress you through the hallways to the rooms, and to bring the outside in by making each room’s patio similar in size to the room.
There were fireplaces throughout the house and beautiful views from all the windows and balconies. It was also nice to see so much original furniture, as a lot of it is custom and built in to the house. The tour guide also loved to point out which designs weren’t Wright’s — some were the owner’s own designs that Wright disapproved of. We also got to see the guest house and walk around to the far side of the stream to get the classic view of the house, where we took most of our photos.
When we were done with our tour and walk around the grounds, we started to head over to see another one of Wright’s homes, Kentuck Knob. We had some time for our drive, though, so on the way we stopped in Ohiopyle to have a picnic lunch by the river, and we also checked out Cucumber Falls, where a large, drunken bridal party was clambering down the muddy path and over slippery roots and rocks to take a photo in their formalwear. It was quite a scene.
Kentuck Knob was very different from Fallingwater. First, it’s a good deal smaller. It’s also tucked into the knob of hill, so it has quite a modest exterior profile. Inside, it has large windows that look out on the trees, and it doesn’t have quite as much of the original furnishings as Fallingwater does, but it’s still privately owned and shows off the owner’s extensive sculpture collection both inside and outside the house. Again the hallways were very narrow and the rooms were even smaller, but it felt nice and cozy and if we weren’t the last tour of the day we would have had more time to go to the sculpture meadow and check out more of the modern art collection.
On our way back to Pittsburgh we stopped for dinner at Chez Girard, a quirky but lovely and nice French restaurant. We weren’t dressed as nicely as we should have been, but we sat out on the patio, enjoying the nice weather, listening to French music and eating a delicious meal.