It’s an issue up for debate but many believe America’s most beautiful home isn’t the White House, Hearst Castle, or the Biltmore Estate. Those these are all iconic residences that attract thousands of visitors every year, many believe that a more modestly sized home in Pennsylvania is even more breathtaking.
Fallingwater—one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s defining designs—is considered one of the Smithsonian’s “28 Places to Visit Before You Die.” Built for Edgar Kaufmann—a successful Pittsburgh department store owner—in 1935, the house has since been recognized as a National Historic Landmark, voted the “best all-time work of American architecture” by the American Institute of Architects, and was placed 29th on a list of “America’s favorite architecture” by the same group.
So, what’s the big deal with Fallingwater? Well, as it’s name suggests, the house is built over a waterfall on the Bear Run river. This is undeniably unique and provides a surprise that few other buildings are capable of. From a more critical perspective, however, the house is the ultimate culmination of one of America’s greatest architect’s most enduring visions: Structural dynamism and near seamless integration with the natural environment.
The cantilevered levels of the house seem to cascade along with the water, suggesting a certain degree of movement. This is surprising considering the materials, which are more a reflection of the static elements of the surroundings—stone and sand—than the water itself.
But don’t take our word for it: Take a road trio to falling water yourself. Tickets can be purchased in advance, which guarantees entry and a tour of the house. If you’re concerned that the house and grounds themselves won’t fill a trip, there are several other nearby attractions—including both architectural sites and outdoor activities—outlined in this handy traveler’s guide.