House of warmth: Frank Lloyd Wright's vision flows through Fallingwater

By Ellen Creager

Detroit Free Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 1 2012 3:00 p.m. MST

Today, Fallingwater is like polished old leather. It was lived in. Books line the walls, especially in their son Edgar J. Kaufmann Jr.'s suite. One can picture him here, waking up in that bed, standing up and looking out the horizontal casement windows at the fall splendor around him, feeling part of the scenery, listening to the water fall.

If you go…

Visiting

Fallingwater is in southwestern Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, a traditional resort region south of Pittsburgh at 1491 Mill Run Road (Route 381) in Mill Run. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (except Wednesdays) from mid-March to Nov. 30, plus Fridays to Sundays in December. $20 adults in advance; no children under 6 are allowed on regular tours.

Portions of the tour are not handicap accessible, and there is a lot of walking. Specialty tours include a brunch tour where you get to see the kitchen. www.fallingwater.org, 724-329-8501)

Staying

Duncan House: Super fans can stay at this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home that is open for overnight guests. It is part of a group of Wright-inspired homes called Polymath Park about 25 miles from Fallingwater; 187 Evergreen Lane, Acme. ($399 per night for up to three people; www.polymathpark.com, 877-833-7829)

The Summit Inn: This homey 1907 resort is perched high atop a precipice on Route 40, with unbelievable views, about 11 miles from Fallingwater; 101 Skyline Drive, Farmington. ($140-$205 for bed and breakfast; www.summitinnresort.com, 724-438-8594)

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort: Elegance galore at this huge 1987-era resort with multiple lodgings, including Chateau Lafayette, a hotel complete with sparkling chandeliers. Nemacolin is a self-contained resort for families, about 12 miles from Fallingwater; 1001 Lafayette Drive, Farmington. ($395 and up per night; www.nemacolin.com, 866-344-6957)

Other attractions

The Laurel Highlands seems to be such a peaceful place. However, a whole lot has happened in this corner of Pennsylvania besides the construction of Fallingwater in 1936-39:

Flight 93: Visit the year-old Flight 93 National Memorial that honors those aboard the jet that went down in a field on Sept. 11, 2001, as passengers thwarted a terrorist attack. Free, 5424 Lincoln Highway, Stoystown. Open daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. in summer (April 1-mid October), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in winter. (www.nps.gov/flni, 814-893-6322)

Ft. Necessity: This small, melancholy fort and National Parks battlefield shows where 31 British/Virginian soldiers were killed and 391 captured in the opening round of the French and Indian War in 1754. The inexperienced commander of the forces? A young George Washington. Entry fee, $5, 1 Washington Parkway, Farmington. Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (www.nps.gov/fone, 724-329-5805)

The first highway: The National Road stretched from Maryland to the western lands of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Built in the early 1800s, it carried a flood of settlers and tourists. Still standing along today's Route 40 are toll booths and taverns that fed and housed the travelers. One is the Washington Tavern, where your family could sleep in the hallway. (www.nationalroadpa.org, 724-437-9877)

The Quecreek Mine Disaster Memorial: In 2002, nine miners were trapped underground for three days until they were rescued by drilling crews. See a small memorial dedicated to the rescue workers at 151 Haupt Road, Somerset, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday from April to October (www.quecreekrescue.org, 814-445-5090)

Things to do near Fallingwater

Shopping

Fallingwater Visitors Center Museum Store: Want a replica of the famous house? A pop-up card is $6.95. A Lego Architecture version is $99.95. An exact-scale replica is $61,000, but they haven't sold any yet, a clerk told me. "For that money, you could buy a real house," she said. (1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run; www.fallingwater.org/11/shop )

Countree Cupboard & Christmas Shop and Downer House Antique Mall: Browse away the afternoon, especially hunting for vintage dishes and glassware. (2958 National Pike (Route 40), Chalk Hill; www.thechristmasshop-chalkhill.com; 724-439-6500)

Old General Store: Look for locally made chocolates, preserves, vinegars and syrup. (3822 Pa- 31 in Donegal or 240 Countryside Plaza, Route 819 South, Mt. Pleasant; www.oldgeneralstore.com; 724-593-7105)

Outdoors

Ohiopyle State Park: Just three miles from Fallingwater, this pretty state park has big waterfalls, bicycling on the Great Allegheny Passage trail, hiking, ziplining and major whitewater rafting along the Youghiogheny River. (www.dcnr.state.pa.us; 724-329-8591)

More Wright stuff: Kentuck Knob, another Wright-designed house, is only about 6 miles from Fallingwater; open for tours (www.kentuckknob.com; 724-329-1901)

Travel guide

See www.laurelhighlands.org

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