Monday, August 24, 2009


All Photos By MK and her digital camera of doom

On Saturday MK and I visited Fallingwater, the house that Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by the Edgar Kaufmann Sr. family to build for $40,000, but ran over $150,000 when it was finally completed in 1937. The design is bold, to be sure, but the whole thing would've fallen in Bear Run (the creek-like water flow it straddles) had massive reinforcements not been added.
Then there's the issue of mold and mildew (Edgar Sr. nicknamed the place 'Rising Mildew'), what with the house built as it is over water. I've been to FW before, and I didn't recall it stinking as much as it did on this visit, but then I was there in dry November instead of humid August. Now the place reeks of various forms of fungi, which I am sure have so thoroughly infiltrated the cushions of the original furniture, which is still in the house, that nothing can be done except to pretend like the joint don't stink. Of course we're constantly warned to not touch anything, and certainly DO NOT SIT on the furniture. Lady, tour guide lady, you couldn't pay me to park my keister on that hot bed of microorganisms. No way no how.
MK got four free passes to FW by donating to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which oversees the management of FW as dictated from the grave by Edgar Jr. Seriously, Edgar Jr. included so many stipulations in bequeathing FW to the WPaC that during the tour no fewer than 987 times were Edgar Jr's wishes brought up on how FW be managed and maintained for a thousand years to come. It's why the original furniture sits there rotting, why the Kaufmann family's books are disintergrating on the shelves, and why some original artworks by Deigo Rivera and Picasso are in danger of degrading in this damp environment. Don't even suggest running dehumidifiers or installing climate control units because Edgar Jr. specifically stated in his bequest that the house be left as it was and nothing be added or changed in regards to the furnace or lack of AC.
It's not like I had a terrible time there. MK and I enjoyed the company of D and A, D's husband. Before we went D made us the most delicious lunch of homemade pizza with fresh garden sauce and mozzarella. Best pizza I've had in ages! A had been to FW before too, D and MK were newbies, and probably dazzled by the precariousness of the house perched on a hillside over a stream, but A, like me, on this second visit noticed everything that I noticed with the smell of mildew and rot abounding.
Ah well. At least the company and the pizza was great! And FW is impressive, in a way. The guest house is actually a better living space than the main house, with higher ceilings and a bedroom that isn't the size of a walk-in closet.


drollgirl said...

ok, i have always LOVED the look of this place, but i had no idea it STANK. ew! and the problems are only going to get worse if they do not do some major clean up and install climate control. egads. what a mess!

K @ Blog Goggles said...

Gorgeous home. Shame it's full of water!

Just wanted to let you know that I linked to you and Bob the pug today!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

K, Bob thanks you ;) And droll, you gave the heads up? Good on you, girl :D

Snooker said...

It really is a cool place, and an interesting idea, but let's face it FLW built lots of places that were on the edge but actually were not really functional.

And yes, I've been there four times total... and yes, it has stunk more each and every time. The original furniture, um... well, ugly and rotting. Perhaps the house would be just as interesting (or maybe even more without the distraction of the stink) with all the crap taken out.