Fallingwater: Bear Run, Pennsylvania:  March 23, 2003


Fallingwater from above

I finally had the opportunity to take an in-depth tour of Fallingwater.  This was a fantastic opportunity to not only spend a lot of time in the home, but also to photograph the interior.  Laura, our guide, had an amazing amount of information about Wright, the Kaufmans and the home that she’d collected over her 8 years of leading tours.  She was very patient as we walked through the house, photographing and poking around in every corner of every room.  We spent almost 2 ½ hours inside Fallingwater and got to see many things that I’d never seen before.  In addition, she gave a great talk on the restoration and renovation work that has been underway over the last few years at Fallingwater.  I’m happy to report that the work is nearing completion.  The house looks great.  I’ll let you see that for yourself.



Kitchen from above

The tour started in the kitchen.  All of the original furnishings were kept in the kitchen.  They even brought back an old coal-burning stove that was used in the house many years ago (the electric range had been moved to the basement).  The steel cabinets were the originals that were picked out by the Kaufmans when the home was built.  The original Wright table was in the middle of the room. 


Servants' Sitting Room

The servants had a beautiful sitting room in which to relax in their spare time.  Immediately behind the kitchen, this sitting room had a fantastic view out over the falls and featured the same mitered glass corners that eliminate the corners in the rest of the home. 


Basement with lots of basement junk

The basement had bare stone walls and was definitely a utility room.  It contained a boiler room, storage room, locker space for servants as well as a small bathroom.  It was rustic and dark, though quite functional.  It contained the electric stove that was used when the Kaufman’s stopped using the home in the 1960s as well as a lot of other stuff that Wright probably would have disapproved of storing there. 



Living room from entryway

Living room fish-eye from far terrace door

Living room from behind the desk

Telescoping window/door that leads to Bear Run

Fish-eye shot of living room from south-east corner

Fish-eye of living room from entryway.

Me in the living room.

Looking out onto the 1st floor terrace

Living room from Kitchen door

Looking out towards 1st floor terrace

I'm a geek!

The stairs leading down to the waterfall had been poured a few days earlier and were still in need of paint.   Once the concrete had cured, they were scheduled to be painted to match the rest of the house.  It is very nice to see them again at all; since they’d been covered the last time I visited.

Looking down to Bear Run

The main terrace off of the living room had been completely renovated, along with the floors inside the living room.  The terrace had never been level.  When the first level of cantilever had been built, the contractor had made it square and level.  Thus when the supports were removed, the terrace sagged a little.   The terrace had been designed to hold its own weight.  However it was recently discovered that the terrace was actually holding much of the second floors weight too.  This helped it to sag a bit more.  At its worst, the terrace had sagged 7 or 8 inches from its original angle. 

Steel cables were anchored and put under tension to help hold the additional weight and eliminate the sag.  Laura showed us a model that showed how the structural enhancements were done as well as samples of the anchors and cables. 

This side looks much better without all the supports 

The guest bedroom is as beautiful as ever.  I think it would be amazing to wake up in a place like this with a Tiffany lamp on the desk and a Diego Rivera over your head.  The real masterpiece is the building in which the guest room resides.


Guest bedroom and view

The Master Bedroom (otherwise known as Mrs. Kaufman’s room) is beautifully decorated and has many touches that the Kaufmans brought to the home.  There is an extremely old Madonna and child on a shelf in the room, as well as other beautiful artwork on the walls.  One of the interesting things that our guide, Laura, brought up was in the bathroom.  The toilets are very low.  The seats only stand 10” from the floor.  According to the Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman, this was a more healthy position from which to relieve oneself. 


Fish-eye of Master Bedroom

The terrace outside the master bedroom was still in the process of being renovated.  The main stones were taken up and the contractors were working on the waterproofing of the floor.

 Down the hall from Mrs. Kaufman’s room is Mr. Kaufman’s bedroom and study.  He often worked late into the night and rather than wake his wife, he’d crawl into a small bed that was in his office. 


Mr Kaufman's Room

Indirect lighting in Mr. Kaufman's room

The windows next to Mr. Kaufman’s desk gave him a great view over the waterfall and the forest below.  All of the corner windows open out and have no corner support so as to give a better view and a more open feel to the room.  Yet another example of how Wright liked to eliminate the box. 


Mr. Kaufman's Desk

The terrace outside Mr. Kaufman’s room is still deep in the process of being restored.  Kevlar wires are being added to the lower structure of the floor to increase the tension and thus hold the terrace up so that it won’t sag as the years go by.  

Terrace off of Mr. Kaufman's Room


Every detail of the home is beautiful…. Even the staircases. 

 We then went up to the third floor to look at Edgar Jr.’s room.  Wright had originally designed his space to be used as a bedroom and library.  Once he’d started living in this space, he decided to move his bed down the hall to a little nook at the end of the hall.  This space was perfect for an early riser since it let in the morning sun.  


Junior's Bed Nook

Edgar Jr’s desk looked a lot like his father’s. 

Junior's Desk

Junior's Library 

The terrace off the side of Jr’s room gave a great view of the hillside. 


Junior's Terrace

The main house was completed in the fall of 1938.  In early spring of 1939, construction on the guesthouse was begun.  It was completed by late summer of 1939.  One of the great things about the guesthouse is that, though it is connected to the main house by an outdoor walkway, it has very good privacy provided in such a way that the view is not compromised. 


Walk from main house to guesthouse

The swimming pool is very nice looking too… though it would be a bit chilly to dip into on an early spring morning. 


Pool and Guesthouse

The guest bedroom is beautifully appointed. 


Guest Bedroom

The furnishings contain this Mies van der Rohe cantilever chair (painted Cherokee red) and a William Morris Arts and Crafts chair. 

Mies van der Rohe Chair to the right 

The guest living room provides not only a comfortable living space, but also room for more people to sleep, if needed.


Guest Living room

View from the Guesthouse

We got to tour the servants’ quarters that are a part of the guesthouse.  These are upstairs from the carport.  There are two single bedrooms and a double. 


Back servant's room.  Now used as an office

Servants' Hallway

Another Servant's quarters used as office space

Even the stairs in the servants’ quarters are beautifully crafted. 


Servants' Stairs

Some new additions are being added to Fallingwater in the year to come.  Even though their water source is possibly one of the cleanest in the country, state regulations are requiring them to get rid of their sand filtration system in order to install a more modern water treatment facility.  The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (owners and care-takers of Fallingwater) are going to install a zero discharge, ecologically friendly water treatment facility in the next year. 


Another outside photo enjoying the removal of the supports

I love this vantage point.  It shows how drastic the cantilevers are.

I can’t thank our guide, Laura, enough for the time that she spent with us.  She was patient while some of us lagged behind taking photos.  She didn’t mind me being a “know-it-all” from time to time.  I learned a lot on her tour and I hope I was able to add a little without being a nuisance.

 I also send out many thanks to Donna, the membership coordinator for the conversation we had and her addition to the tour. 


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