Fallingwater is a house built between 1936 and 1939 over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.
Why is it so famous? It’s a house that doesn’t even appear to stand on solid ground, but instead stretches out over a 30’ waterfall. It captured everyone’s imagination when it was on the cover of Time magazine in 1938.
The Kaufmanns were from Pittsburgh, PA. They owned Kaufmann’s Department Store, a very exciting and elegant place to shop in the 1930s. (Today, it is part of the Macy’s chain). Edgar Kaufmann and his wife, Liliane, had one son, Edgar jr.
The Kaufmanns lived in the city, but like many other Pittsburghers, they loved to vacation in the mountains southeast of Pittsburgh. They could hike in the forest, swim and fish in the streams, go horseback riding, and do other outdoor activities.
Pittsburgh at the time was sometimes called the “Smoky City,” due to the amount of air pollution from Pittsburgh’s steel industry. People who could afford to take the train to the mountains ($1 round trip) relished the chance to breathe fresh, cool mountain air.
The Kaufmanns had a summer camp for the department store employees, located along a mountain stream called Bear Run. When the Great Depression made daily living so hard for so many people, the employees no longer had time or money to come up to Kaufmanns Summer Camp. But Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann and their son dearly loved the mountains, and decided to make the summer camp their own country estate.
Fallingwater is 20 minutes from Confluence.