Friday, December 4, 2015

We Visit Frank Loyd Wright's Falling Water

I am a lover of art of all kinds.  I'm even fascinated by fashion, though in everyday life I chose comfort over style.  One of my favorite art forms is architecture, so I am thankful that I married someone who is also a bit of an architecture nerd.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater has been on our list probably since the time we were dating. We tried planning trips many times, but they never seemed to work out, until now. 

We wanted to take the two hour in-depth tour. The two hour tour is the only tour that allows you to take pictures inside of the house. We learned however, that due to limited space, you have to book it way in advance. Since our trip to Pittsburgh was planned at the last minute, we ended up taking the regular one hour tour.

I think some people believe Fallingwater is right outside of Pittsburgh, but it's about an hour drive.  You can take the highway, but we opted to take the scenic back roads. I’m glad we did.  It was a lovely drive that meandered through farmland and quaint little towns.

We arrived to the gorgeously designed visitors’ center about an hour before our tour time.  

We decided to check in anyway and when we did the staff offered us the choice of joining an earlier tour.  We said yes. 

The day was gray and chilly, but thankfully it was dry. Frank Lloyd Wright did not believe in air conditioning.  He thought that air conditioners were unsightly and ruined his designs, so visiting Fallingwater on a cooler day might be preferable. 

A staff member gathered the group at the visitors’ center and gave a brief talk.  He then led us on about a five to ten minute walk through the grounds to the house before passing us off to our tour guide. 

The hour long tours are a well oiled machine. The tour group in front of you and the tour group behind you are in close proximity, though never a distraction.

The tour starts at the outside of the house, 

and then makes its way through the inside.  You get to see most of the rooms in the main house. Some rooms, like the kitchen, have been converted into staff areas. You get to walk out on a few of the terraces, and you get to tour the guest house/servants’ quarters. You stand almost the entire time, except at the very end where you are shown a brief video. You also walk up and down stairs, so keep that in mind if you have trouble doing so. 

The house is remarkable. 

It will certainly increase our visual I.Q.. It was designed to live in harmony with its surroundings. It was simple and greatly detailed at the same time. What I found the most fascinating, was the idea that at one time this was someone’s actual home or vacation home at least. 

People once read books out on the terrace.  There were dinner parties thrown in the living/dining room. Children splashed in the water below the house or in the natural swimming pool.  The house it so famous, it seems like it has been a museum/tour site forever.  My imagination ran wild imagining people actually living in the house. Imagining myself living in the house. It must have been heavenly, if you don’t mind not having A/C and can tolerate the leaks.

Frank Lloyd Wright regarded ascetics over practicality, so his buildings usually had problems. The flat roof design caused his houses to leak when it rained. He tutted when costumers complained and claimed that the flawed practicality of his buildings were not his problem. Also, his buildings ended up costing the customer significantly more than the original agreed upon price.  

We watched a documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright when we got home and learned that he was kind of a jerk.

We loved the tour, and although we still wished we could have taken the in-depth tour, the regular tour was interesting and inspiring.

After the tour of the house, guests are welcomed to wander the grounds for as long as they'd like. 

The grounds are peaceful and beautiful. 

It’s no wonder that the Kaufmann family, the owners of the home, chose the site for their summer house. There are trails that you can amble if you have plenty of time.

Staff encourage you to go to one particular spot on the grounds where you can get the iconic shot of Fallingwater. 

Before we left, we grabbed some food at the cafe.

The food was fantastic. They try to use as many locally sourced ingridents as they can, including herbs from the herb garden on grounds.

We both got the tomato soup. It had a touch of dill that gave it a yummy, interesting flavor.

I also got the grilled cheese. I have become a fan of grilled cheese with chutney.  My super cheesy grilled cheese came with a sweet apple chutney.  The kale-veggie salad that came with my sandwich was also scrumptious. I still regret not asking if I could have the recipe. 

Shannon got the roast beef and watercress sandwich with brown rice.  He liked his meal too. Everything was very fresh.

After our meal, we took a vanilla-cardamon cookie for the road and began the slog home.

I highly recommend a trip to Fallingwater, especially if you are a fan of architecture, nature, and/or history. You can look at the pictures, but like many things, pictures don't compare to seeing it in person. If you want to do the in-depth tour, make sure to book early, and if you are hungry, the cafe is worth a visit. 

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