"Fallingwater in Focus"

Message from the President

Thomas Saunders

The three-year mission statement and strategic plan just adopted by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy articulate the overarching mission of the Conservancy – to protect and restore the exceptional places of Western Pennsylvania. When people in our region think of the Conservancy, they may think of the forestlands and habitat we have protected, the region’s great rivers, streams and watersheds that we have restored, and the work we do with many partners to enhance and revitalize our communities.

But when Western Pennsylvanians think of our special places, we also know that one of the most dramatic and significant is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the stunning mid-century modern residence – which is protected and restored by the Conservancy. What foresight Edgar Kaufmann, jr. demonstrated when he chose to entrust this magnificent building and site to the Conservancy in 1963. Fallingwater is first and foremost about designing with nature, about the beauty of Bear Run and the waterfall, and about the setting of the Bear Run Nature Reserve and the greater Laurel Highlands that surrounds the residence.

When the Kaufmanns dedicated Fallingwater to the Conservancy, Edgar Kaufman, jr. made this profound statement about Fallingwater: “Such a place cannot be possessed. It is a work by man for man, not by a man for a man...By its very intensity it is a public resource, not a private indulgence.”

This issue of Conserve focuses on this rare architectural gem, in this rare setting. In the pages that follow, we explore the history of the house from the perspective of a family that has been close to it for several generations. We describe current Fallingwater restoration challenges as well as an opportunity for WPC members and friends to help – while becoming a part of the house’s permanent legacy. In addition, we discuss the new Fallingwater website as a resource for eager learners around the world, and we outline plans to improve educational programming opportunities.

Recognizing the significance of Fallingwater’s setting, we also describe the Conservancy’s recent conservation activities in the Laurel Highlands. WPC has steadily added acreage to the Bear Run Nature Reserve that surrounds Fallingwater and now protects over 5,000 acres there, while also conserving the water quality of its streams. We also recognize the ecological, recreational and scenic significance of the Laurel Highlands overall. At this time, we have protected 78,000 acres in the Laurel Highlands.

As you read this issue of Conserve, please join me in celebrating Fallingwater, an international treasure suffused with the life and vitality of its landscape. In the words of Mr. Kaufmann, “...conservation is not preservation; preservation is stopping life to serve a future contingency; conservation is keeping life going. The union of powerful art and powerful nature into something beyond the sum of their separate powers deserves to be kept living.”

Thomas Saunders
Thomas Saunders

2009 Members' Day and
Annual Meeting

WPC invites our members to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together. We’d also like to thank you for your loyal membership support.

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The Fallingwater Cookbook

The Fallingwater Cookbook takes readers into the kitchen of Fallingwater and the world of the Kaufmanns, who entertained many famous guests at their weekend retreat.

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