The State of Wright: Two FLW Excursions
Both the New York City area and Western Pennsylvania are excellent destinations for Wright enthusiasts who’d like to go farther afield. To the south and east of us, there are stunning Wright properties.
The Downstate Tour
I can think of several more desirable places in the world to build his great museum,” Wright wrote in 1949 of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s request that he design a building to house his art museum, “but we will have to try New York.” Despite Wright’s misgivings about the Big Apple, the downstate area surrounding New York City boasts an abundance of Wright works. Start on Staten Island in Richmond, New York, with Crimson Beech (also known as the Cass House or Prefab No. 1)—a house Wright never got to see. It was erected in 1959, the year of his death, and is the only private residence in the city proper designed by Wright. Of course, don’t miss the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (www.guggenheim.org) and the Frank Lloyd Wright Room, the living room from Francis Little House II, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1972.60.1). Like Crimson Beech, the Guggenheim was completed posthumously, in 1959; Solomon R. Guggenheim himself also died before he saw the masterwork complete.
About an hour north of the city, there are several private residences of note, though they don’t currently offer tours: the Ben Rebhuhn House (1937) in Great Neck on Long Island, which bears similarities to Buffalo’s Davidson House, and the Maximilian Hoffman residence (1955) in Rye.
Pleasantville contains Wright’s Usonia community, a lovely and secluded neighborhood featuring the Sol Friedman residence (1948), the Edward Serlin House (1949), and the Roland and Ronny Reisley House & Addition (1951, 1956), in addition to a number of houses inspired by Wright. All are private homes but can be viewed via stroll or bike ride through the neighborhood.
Beautiful western Pennsylvania is well suited to Wright’s work, and the area southeast of Pittsburgh offers three must-visit sites. Start in Chalk Hill near the stunning Ohiopyle State Park, home of Kentuck Knob. The property features native sandstone, tidewater cypress, and copper, and includes a sculpture garden, gift shop, and cafe (www.kentuckknob.com). Just seven miles north, in Mill Run, lies perhaps Wright’s most famous property, the magnificent Fallingwater estate. So named because it appears to stretch over a thirty-foot waterfall, Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It is a National Historic Landmark and even graced the cover of Time magazine in 1938. The excellent Fallingwater website (www.fallingwater.com) offers a wealth of information and visit-planning resources.
The Duncan House, a Usonian-style 1957 home, was removed from its original location in Lisle, Illinois, and relocated to to Acme, Pennsylvania, where it is now a short drive from Fallingwater. It is housed in the Polymath Park Resort, which contains two Wright-inspired homes for added architectural interest; guests even have the opportunity to stay overnight at the Duncan House or at one of the two “apprentice homes.” Finally, the route home to Buffalo is a perfect opportunity to visit Graycliff in Derby.
Last week, and again this week, we will post a series that organizes each Wright gem by location, history, what should be seen, and additional information that may pique visitor interest. There are many more resources, including guided tours for most sites, excluding the private homes. It is hoped that this guide will inspire readers to see firsthand the reasons why visitors from all over the world make the trip to Buffalo to experience Frank Lloyd Wright.