The Four day Pennsylvania dash

If it sounds like a new kind of race then that’s because it was. In the usual “how much can we fit in to the smallest amount of paid vacation time off”, we always feel it is worth driving hours to get to places. AND of course we have become very North American in our view of what constitutes a long drive.

We stole an atmosphere steeped night at the spledid and previously raved about Roycroft Hall near Buffalo,  which meant we got off to a running start on our journey to Pittsburgh and to our real goal – Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” which is virtually on the border of PA and Virginia.

Many people rave about the Fall colours of New England, so we thought that we would combine a Pennsylvania fall trip with my long desired wish to see Falling Water, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic property. If it’s good enough for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to have the entire place closed down for them, then I’ve got to see it too. 

Tucked away in the rolling countryside of the southern most corner of PA, it inhabits or rather exists as an integral part of the remote but classically beautiful woodlands of this river and railway laced countryside. Just north of the PA / Maryland border and south of the Mennonite communities around Ohio Pyle are not one but two of Frank Lloyd Wrihjt’s buildings. A perfect pair of his most diametrically opposed building styles, separated by 30 years and thousands of dollars.

The weather was not kind  to us on our way down through the traditional “Fall colours viewing” countryside. Torrential rain accompanied us right up until the moment we banged on the door of the “Inn on Mexican War Streets”  (our B&B for the night) in Pittsburgh and then it stopped.

Glorious sunshine and crisp apple temperatures accompanied us for the rest of our trip.

What can I say about Pittsburgh – nicknamed City of Bridges; City of Champions,  City of Steel. there is precious little heavy industry carried out in this area these days. Located in Allegheny County and occupying the confluence of the River Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, it consistutes the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley. A complete surprise to me was the very attractive physical arrangement of the city with it’s triangular shape incorporating both rivers and banded to the south by the dramatic and unexpected steep escarpent known as “The Inclines” that commands an amazing view over the cities 446 bridges and downtown-core highrises. Despite the complete absence of its Steel industry heritage -which waned as recently as the 1980’s, (there are still however several hundred steel related businesses in the area) this city has shed its industrial image and steel armour and turned to technology, even flourishing as the economy entered a significant job recession.

Big draws from a tourist point of view:

The Incline trams – Monogahela and the Duquesne (pronounce Ducayne). These trams were built by the original coal miners who lived at the top of the escarpment and needed a way of transporting themselves and their gear and equipment up and down the slopes to get to the pits and factories below. These are the original stepped funicular trams with three levels and they afford spectacular views especially at night with the glittering bridges and high-rises that stretch along the valley as far as the eye can see.

The Andy Warhol Museum 

Pittsburgh was Andy Warhol’s home town and this enormous museum houses a stunning and amazing number of his works from art to television (15 minutes with Andy Warhol series) and film. There was also a “Marvel” cartoon exhibition whilst we were there.

The city comprises some damn fine turn-of-the-century buildings amidst the closely quartered high-rise in the down-town quarter and a tiny originalblockhouse  which now guards one of the mounded buttresses housing the Fort Pitt museum.

You won’t be able to avoid noticing the enormous river hugging “Heinz Field” stadium – home of the “Pittsburgh Steelers” dominating the city skyline 

And if you want a taste of Europe, try the Hoffmeister Brewery (one of the many exact replicas of the this great German brewhouse brand ); Everything is fried within an inch of it’s life and therefore extra yummy but with the usual “I feel poisoned” food hangover the next day!

So having had a fantastically unexpectedly great time discovering a little of Pittsburgh (see the film She’s just too Good for you” with Jay Baruchel) we followed the Ohio valley down to Mill Run and Falling Water

Tucked away in the rolling countryside of the southern most corner of PA, it inhabits or rather exists as an integral part of the remote but classically beautiful woodlands of this river and railway laced countryside. Just north of the PA / Maryland border and south of the Mennonite communities around Ohio Pyle are not one but two of frank Lloyd wrights buildings. A perfect pair of his most diametrically opposed building styles and separated by 30 years and thousands of dollars.
Falling Water 
Straddling the waterfall of Bear Run at Mill Run section Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania (in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains) – [[ doesnt the romantic sound of that location make you want to hot foot it down there]]

* Built between 1936 -1939
*Wright’s desire to create a unified and organic composition limited the color palette at Fallingwater. Only two colors were used throughout: a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel. 
* Architectural issues: major structural repair in 2002 strengthening Fallingwater’s cantilevers to prevent collapse and future deflection.
Stay the night in the area 

4 miles away from Falling Water 

KENTUCK KNOB 
*also known as the Hagan House and begun in 1953
*added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
*one-story USONIAN dwelling situated on Chestnut Ridge, the western-most ridge of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains. 
*The house stands at the end of a driveway south of Pennsylvania State Route 2010. 

*recessed into the southern side of Kentuck Knob’s 2,050-foot peak with a mountainous 79 surrounding acres. With sweeping views if the Youghiogheny River gorge 
* friends of the Kaufmanns, owners of nearby Fallingwater on Bear Run, the Hagans asked the then 86 yr old Wright to design then a home – they lived at KentuckKnob for almost 30 years.
*bought in1986 as a vacation home by Lord Palumbo of London, UK (for $600,000) 

*Since 1996, the Palumbo family has balanced their occupancy with a public tour program, a method of historic property management more common to their native Britain than to the United States.
Spot these Usonian home features:
*Designed Mid 1930s for ‘middle-income family

*typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage. 

*often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites. 

*Constructed with native materials, flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling.

*natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes. 

*carport – this word was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for sheltering a parked vehicle.

Check out the sculpture meadow on the site near the base of the mountain, where 35 sculptures by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, are displayed 

So that was the “Finding Frank” Treasure Hunt 

Now you only have another 400 or so of his properties to find

Over and out 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s