For the last couple of years, our membership with the Smithsonian has resulted in more bathroom reading than any couple could possibly digest (without a serious medical condition). Among these materials are opportunities for classes and field trips, and the day trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater has always been one of the most eye-catching.
Fallingwater was built as a vacation home for a wealthy family looking to escape the bustle of 1930s industrial Pittsburgh. Mission accomplished. Set among the woods and hovering over a stream, the home still maintains the "middle of nowhere" feel (because it still is).
At about 200 miles (or 3.5 hours) from DC, Fallingwater also makes for a great destination for a weekend trip. Neither J nor I know anything about architecture, but were able to appreciate the juxtaposition of the home's geometric lines set within the natural surroundings. We also loved the integration of the home with the stream, and fantasized about living in such a unique and serene environment.
More than anything, the half day at Fallingwater was a perfect retreat from our normal lives. The visit had a little of everything: nature, art, culture, and history. In all, another great way to spend a summer day in our neck of the woods.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I first heard of Fallingwater when Angelina Jolie took architecture buff Brad Pitt there to celebrate his birthday in 2006. Give me a break though. I was living in LA and that counted as "news." Fast forward a few years when my book club read Loving Frank, a fascinating peek into Frank Lloyd Wright's private life. Reading about the man behind Fallingwater increased my awareness of his work and my curiosity.
While my knowledge of architecture is limited to what I've learned from Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother, I found the Fallingwater trip to be well worth it. Even if you don't care one bit about architecture, you are sure to love the serene setting. At the very least, Fallingwater offers superb people watching.
The tour allows visitors to go back in time and imagine what it would have been like to live at Fallingwater. The furnishings are all authentic and you can see how "ahead of his time" Wright was given that the house has a very 1970's feel even though it was constructed in the 1930's. Perhaps most fascinating was learning about how Wright's unique cantilevered design has suffered from sagging over the years. Despite recent structural improvements, visitors can see a distinct bend in the lower level of the home.
While it was a pleasure to visit Fallingwater on a sunny late-summer day, I don't think there is a bad time of year to make the journey. The home changes with the seasons and looks stunning whether covered in a blanket of sparkling snow or surrounded by spring flowers (at least that's what I'd assume after looking at all the pictures). Bring your camera for the obligatory shot posed in front of the home and waterfall. You just might have yourself a holiday card.