Appalachian Travel: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Iconic Fallingwater Comes Alive in Spring

Explore the seasonal wildflowers that surround the architectural landmark and former home in Western Pennsylvania.

Ellen Creager
Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater, in Mill Run, Pennsylvania offers seasonals tours of the home’s grounds and architecture.

“The seasons are all very different here and create a different atmosphere,” says Clinton Piper, senior administrator of special projects for Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. “In the spring, before things completely leaf out, the sun penetrates more into the house. You get wonderful shadows, spring wildflowers, and it feels more open. We do have native redbuds and dogwoods, so you get all those spring things happening, and a little bit later the wisteria blooms. It’s a different feeling than fall with the dramatic colors and smells.”

Built for a wealthy Pittsburgh family by architect Wright between 1936 and 1939, Fallingwater is a sublime piece of art. Its living room juts out over a waterfall and stream. Long and low, made of stone and concrete, the home coexists with nature all year long.

In the spring, the stream is at its highest. Water rushes below. “Certainly, the stream is always a background to the experience,” Piper says.

Fallingwater is 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in the Laurel Highlands. A guided architecture tour, offered March 11 to Nov. 26 and a few dates in December, is a reasonable $35. A guided grounds walking tour, offered April 17 to Oct. 31, is $25.

The Laurel Highlands itself is a leafy, historic area in the Allegheny Mountains. Nearby are other Wright homes at Kentuck Knob and Polymath Park. An old French and Indian War battlefield, Fort Necessity, marks the spot where a young George Washington learned to lead. Ohiopyle State Park offers challenging whitewater rafting and panoramic cycling trails.

Piper says that Wright himself was taken with the wild rhododendrons and mountain laurel he saw in the woods at Fallingwater. Today, rhododendrons still bloom in late June. It is just another lush frill for one of the finest houses ever built. 

This story is from the Appalachian Spring feature package in the April 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.