Kentuck Knob, the Other Frank Lloyd Wright House

We just got done with three visits from Ohio friends and family.  It has been a wild 10 days, but full of laughter, fun, and fellowship.  We enjoyed every minute of it!  When we decided to work at a park so close to Ohio, we didn’t realize how many people would take the time to come see us.  Wonderful!  Having all these people visit means we are always looking for different things to do and see.  Our friends Eric and Sandy came early last week and the first place we went together was Kentuck Knob.

Kentuck Knob is the other Frank Lloyd Wright house in Ohiopyle.  Everyone has heard of Fallingwater and a lot of people visit there.  We went there with Steve and Kathy in July and enjoyed it.  But I don’t really want to see it again.  Eric and Sandy wanted to see it (Sandy always wants to do EVERYTHING!) so they went on Monday while we were working.  On Tuesday morning the four of us headed to Kentuck Knob.

Kentuck Knob was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright for I.N. and Bernadine Hagan in 1953, about 20 years after Fallingwater.  At this point Frank Lloyd Wright was 86 and much less hands on than he had been with Fallingwater.  He only visited the construction site once.

Kentuck Knob is much smaller than Fallingwater.  It is a deluxe Usonian home.  This is a style of home that Wright designed to be affordable to any American.  Kentuck Knob still cost $96,000, which would have been way above the average for a house in 1953.  The Hagans also lived in Kentuck Knob year-round, so Mrs. Hagan asked for many changes from the design that made the house more livable.  It has radiant floor heating, screened windows, and a much bigger kitchen than Wright usually permitted.  The house also has a two room basement, which Wright rarely permitted.

We rode a shuttle bus to Kentuck Knob.  The house, from the outside, looks like a ship perched on the side of the mountain.  It has a prow off the living room, and a deck along one side.  The furnishings in the house are a mix of Frank Lloyd Wright and personal taste.  The house was bought by the Palumbo family in 1986 and they still live in it part-time.  They have family pictures, artwork, and items from their travels scattered throughout the house.  Because of this, the house feels more personal than Fallingwater.

All of us loved Kentuck Knob and agreed that we could see ourselves living in it.  Our tour guide said it best when he described Fallingwater as “the fancy party house” and Kentuck Knob as “the place you take off your shoes after the party.”  The kitchen had a very space age feel with stove burners that could tuck into the wall out of the way when not in use.

After our tour we spent some time walking to the overlook at the top of the hill.  Mrs. Hagan planted 80,000 trees on her property, but she left the summit open to enjoy the view of the Youghiogheny Valley.  Although it was mostly clouded in the day we were there, it was still stunning.  The property contains a sculpture garden and we walked among the sculptures back to the Visitors Center.  They were a variety of styles and materials so we had interesting discussions as we studied them.

I enjoyed our visit to Kentuck Knob very much.  It was an interesting contrast to Fallingwater and I preferred the smaller, more intimate design.