Accessing Fallingwater

What an amazing project I experienced. I was invited to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous house, Fallingwater, in rural Southwestern Pennsylvania to help address accessibility solutions. I feel so honored to be chosen to help with this amazing architectural design that was built in 1935. The home is a work of art! Designed with classic features, including glass covered staircases leading to the water that runs below the house. When you are in the house it feels futuristic, yet you are stepping back in time. The house’s design is something special to behold.

Wright designed everything in the home, including the shelves where the dishes sit to the furniture. Fallingwater was built over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Mill-Run part of Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It is surrounded by the beauty of the Laurel Highlands Allegheny Mountains. It was designed as a weekend home for the family of Edgar J. Kaufmann, his wife Liliane, and their son, Edgar Kaufmann Jr. They were the owners of Kaufmann’s department store in Pittsburgh. Fallingwater is a place where many famous people came to stay. In 1963, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy took ownership and preserved Fallingwater properties. 

I stayed on the property which was the Kauffmanns’ attorney’s former home and is now an education facility. Wow, what an experience. My accommodations were so accessible.  I was so thrilled to tour the properties (this was my 2nd visit to Fallingwater) and provide suggestions for accessibility, so everyone can experience the house and the other facilities on the properties.

I love buying cookbooks for my friends that are unique and I have the Fallingwater cookbook by the Kaufmann’s cook, Elsie Henderson. When I toured the house a few years ago, I bought one for myself. On this project, I bought two for my friends in Nevada. I love this cookbook, the staff told me that Elsie Henderson was at Fallingwater two weeks ago and she just turned 106 years old. I love her cookbook! It has tasty recipes and outlines her experiences working for the Kaufmanns at Fallingwater.  It was said that she never served the same guest the same dish twice.  It would be on my bucket list to meet Elsie and listen to her stories of Fallingwater.

The facility where I stayed for two amazing nights, was the Kaufmanns’ attorney’s former home that he donated to the conservatory. The conservatory added section was fully enclosed and had dorm rooms and one fully ADA accessible guestroom for me to stay in. The house also has an ADA restroom off the kitchen. I loved this project.

There is an amazing barn that the Kaufmanns used as a dairy farm, and it has been turned into a conference building and wedding reception area. These facilities have ADA restrooms, although since they are in a rural setting, we discussed ways for parking to be improved for guests who would attend events or conferences and needed accessible parking. How wonderful it is to say I helped this magical place?

About Madonna Long: Madonna works as a disability advocate to educate policymakers and congressional leaders on disability issues. She is a mother to four children and lives life on her terms, despite a spinal cord injury. Click here to learn more about Madonna.