Falling for it

Mike and I had the opportunity to visit Fallingwater this past weekend — an outing with Mike’s boss and wife. The timing was bad — so much work to do at my mom’s. But we had committed weeks ago, so off we went. I hadn’t been there in 20 years, and remember being so-so about it last time — those low ceilings? orange furniture? tiny bedrooms? It was okaaaay, but…

Twenty years of maturity and home ownership and design savvy later, I found it absolutely enchanting. As our guide said, “It’s a house you want to live in, but please refrain from living in it during the tour.” He was right. I had to restrain myself from plopping on the bed or the sofa to absorb the beauty of it. The drippy rain, the rushing water, the gorgeous hillside of blue forget-me-nots, the flowering trees. Those magnificent open corner windows, the built-ins everywhere, the charming bathrooms with their cork floors and walls, the boulder hearth — about as far from a McMansion as you could get, and thousands of times more desirable.

I remember very little about my last visit. This time, I wanted to hear everything the guide had to say, and asked a lot of questions myself. As a chatchke person, I loved the objets and art, noting a signed Picasso in the guest house. Genuine? I also admired the beauty of the new Visitor Center and the efficiency of the tours, with strategically placed umbrellas and really knowledgeable guides. Of course, being there with two architects, you get other insights as well. (For once, though, they found very little to be critical of.) 😉

The outing was for The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy annual members meeting, and included a lovely outdoor lunch, the Fallingwater tour, and hikes of the grounds if you wished. At the actual meeting, various Conservancy staff talked about their areas and showed slides of their work — very interesting, particularly the value of the 800 miles of creek fencing installed to keep cattle (and their bodily outputs) out of the water, the lands the Conservancy has acquired, and the urban beautification projects.

The “Barn” where the meeting was held (at Bear Run Nature Reserve) was really wonderful — a mix of natural and contemporary materials, including straw bale walls. Just walking from the Visitor Center to the house was a treat — nothing better than a walk along a wooded path, smelling the pines and seeing all the ferns and trillium and moss and quiet natural beauty.

Oh the joy of a relaxing and wonderful day — so very needed in the midst of my lately very complicated life and so inspirational. Maybe we can make that little cabin in the Smokies a reality someday (even though we’ll never be able to retire or afford long-term health care).

Oh well, reality is calling, but fantasy makes it so much easier to bear.

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. 
                      ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted, 14 August 1966

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2 Comments

  1. Cara said,

    Monday, May 12, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Sounds like a great day!

    The Picasso you saw in Fallingwater’s Guest House is “genuine”. There is also one in the Master Bedroom.

    The one in the Guest House is Le Peintre et son Modele (The Artist and his Model), a signed intaglio print. Picasso produced a huge body of work in the late 1950s and early 1960s. “The Artist and his Model” was one of many series he worked on in 1963. Early in that year, he carried out dozens of oil paintings of the subject and at years end, he produced a number of prints of the same theme, including this one. The Smoker, located in the main house was produced during the same period of Picasso’s activity

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Monday, May 12, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Cara, Thanks for the info! I asked if there was a catalog of the house contents and the guide showed me the meticulous notes you keep in each room. It would be great if the Conservancy could publish a catalog for purchase highlighting the notable objets and art.


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