Kentuck Knob is the “other” Frank Lloyd Wright house in western Pennsylvania, about 15 minutes drive from Fallingwater. It’s worth a visit just to experience the contrasts between the two designs, not to mention the lovely art walk at the Knob.
The bummer for you is that no photos are allowed inside the house, since it is still privately owned. So I’ve got some outside shots and I’ll throw in a few bits of trivia from the house tour.
In 1953, the Hagans commissioned Wright to design this house after they fell in love with Fallingwater. It’s a Usonian design, which in Wright’s terms meant it was to be affordable by the middle class. This is one of the last homes completed by Wright. He only visited once during construction and never saw the completed project.
Like Fallingwater, it has carports instead of garages because Wright believed garages just enabled people to collect stuff and that equalled clutter and clutter he could not abide. FLW would have agreed with George Carlin about stuff.
The back side of the house is a long, wide porch with a really interesting wood covering. Yes, those are holes in it, and on a sunny day, the sunbeams dance through those holes and make lovely designs on the stone. I, however, visited on a day of torrential downpours, so all I can confirm is that the holes definitely let a lot of rain in and the tour group huddled between them attempting to avoid the raindrops. We were mildly successful.
That’s a close-up view of the intricate woodwork involved in each opening. As a bonus, you can even see the rain coming through it. The openings echo Wright’s use of the hexagon shape throughout the house, from walls to fireplace to the the shape of the kitchen.
The house tour is worth it, because you see the entire house. The tour guides are knowledgeable and clearly love the place, showing it off to us like it was their own. My guide pointed out that there are only two places in the entire house that have right angle corners, deviating from Wright’s hexagon angles. The plumbers said they needed at least one right angle for each of the two showers, so that’s where you can find them if you go on the tour yourself.
The current owner, Lord Peter Palumbo, has curated a collection of outdoor artwork, with a winding path to view them all as you walk from the house back to the visitor center. (You can take the shuttle up and back if you want, though.).
Despite the drenching rain, I borrowed one of the house umbrellas and set off down the path. Within a few yards, my feet were soaked, but it wasn’t a cold day and I was actually enjoying the path so I kept going. His collection includes this piece of the Berlin Wall. Never did I think I’d see *that* in western PA!
Towards the end of the walk, I found this turtle looking as if he’d just emerged from the little pond. It might be my favorite placement of the collection because it has a sense of humor about it.
If you go…
If you’re doing Fallingwater, take a few hours to visit Kentuck Knob as well. Somerset might be the closest city. Ohiopyle State Park is definitely the closest campground.
The grounds are open to visitors to walk around, but you’ll need a ticket to do the house tour. Parking is good, but not big enough for RVs or trailers of any size.
For more about Kentuck Knob, visit their website.
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
Frank Lloyd Wright