Fans of architecture are likely familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Pennsylvania and New York. But, did you know the two states recently came together to create a special guide, the “Great Wright Road Trip,” highlighting his changing style over 50 years?
Of course, Fallingwater is the most famous Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania, so it’s no surprise this is included in on the Great Wright Road Trip!
But, nearby Kentuck Knob is another fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright house near Pittsburgh, well worth a visit. It, too, is included on the Great Wright Road Trip.
When I made a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I got to tour both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. I also got to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s office, which was painstakingly transferred from California to the Hagen History Center in Erie, PA.
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The Great Wright Road Trip in Pennsylvania and New York
The Great Wright Road Trip encompasses 50 years of architecture and design. Touring these Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Pennsylvania and New York provides guests with a better understanding of his creative evolution and the architectural concepts that inspired him.
Nine Frank Lloyd Wright sites are participating, including:
- Fallingwater (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Mill Run, PA
- Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, PA
- Polymath Park, Acme, PA
- Hagen History Center, Erie, PA (home of Wright’s actual San Francisco office)
- Blue Sky Mausoleum, Buffalo, NY
- The Filling Station at the Pierce Arrow Museum, Buffalo, NY
- Fontana Rowing Boathouse, Buffalo, NY
- Graycliff, Derby, NY
- Martin House, Buffalo, NY
For Wright fans or budding architects, this road trip is a delight in art, history and architecture set among some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
“This road trip will change the way you see the world, inspiring you to think differently about how you live with art and nature. As you travel between these architectural landmarks, which are regarded as some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest works, you’ll… gain an appreciation for the beautiful landscapes that inspired his designs.”Justin Gunther, Director of Fallingwater
While the nine sites on the Great Wright Road Trip are located within an easy four-hour drive of each other, this trip can also be done one site at a time or in segments over time.
There is no right or wrong way to explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes. Visiting the nine sites, no matter which order you go in, will provide insight and appreciation for his creative process.
But, if you’re taking the trip at one time, start in Buffalo!
Because the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in New York were built earlier in his career. If you start in Buffalo, you’ll “meet” a young architect. Both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob were built later in his architectural career.
Frank Lloyd Wright Houses in New York
Early in his career, Wright, who was frustrated by fussy house design, started the Prairie style movement.
Inspired by the wide open spaces of the Midwest, his Prairie style homes tended to be low profile with extensive windows and wide, open living spaces.
Arts and Crafts style elements were included, but he preferred the use of more organic elements, like local stone. You can see these details in Frank Lloyd Wright homes everywhere, like the Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois.
Both Frank Lloyd Wright houses in New York, the Martin House and Graycliff in Buffalo, reflect his early Prairie style.
Other properties included in Great White Road trip in New York — the Blue Sky Mausoleum, the Filling Station and the Fontana Rowing Boathouse — were designed by Wright but not built until much later under the supervision of his apprentices.
They each reflect his later passion for design inspired by the surrounding environment.
As you tour these Frank Lloyd Wright New York properties, you’ll also learn the significance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s friendship with the Martin family, early benefactors of his storied career.
Frank Lloyd Wright at the Hagen History Center in Erie
After touring the Frank Lloyd Wright New York properties, continue your Great Wright Road Trip with a drive west to Erie, Pennsylvania.
Here, you’ll visit the Hagen History Center, where Wright’s San Francisco office now resides.
A permanent exhibit at the Hagen History Center, Wright’s San Francisco office was moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, piece by piece.
Each board of his office and artifact within it was carefully labelled and disassembled in San Francisco before making its way to its new, permanent home in Erie.
As you walk through the office, you’ll see Wright’s blueprints up close. You’ll step into Wright’s personal office — ironically, shaped with 90 degree angles like a typical room.
Enjoy Erie, Pennsylvania before moving on to the Laurel Highlands, and the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Pennsylvania.
Fallingwater and more in the Laurel Highlands
The Laurel Highlands, just south of Pittsburgh, is home to Fallingwater — probably the most famous of Wright’s designs. This is likely the property that anchored his place in architectural history.
When you visit Fallingwater, you’ll tour the main house, the guest house, and the many walking trails on the grounds.
When visiting Fallingwater, enjoy a scrumptious lunch while enjoying this beautiful setting. It’s hard to believe this Frank Lloyd Wright Pennsylvania property is a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh!
There’s another Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania, named Kentuck Knob.
While Kentuck Knob is not as well-known as Fallingwater, this Frank Lloyd House near Pittsburgh is a classic example of Wright’s Usonian design.
When visiting, notice the long wall along the north side of the master bedroom. Can you even imagine how cold that gets when snow builds up in winter?
The grounds at Kentuck Knob are amazing, as well.
Not far from the house, you can see amazing views of the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands.
The grounds at Kentuck Knob also feature many of the current owner’s sculptures. I was surprised to see a piece of the Berlin Wall among the collection.
Touring each home takes 1-3 hours depending on how much you explore the grounds.
You can see both Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater in one day.
But, spend a second day here to tour Polymath Park, where you’ll see an ever growing collection of Frank Lloyd Wright houses.
But first, start with a leisurely lunch (or end the day with dinner) at Tree Tops Restaurant at Polymath Park.
As of this publication, Polymath Park has two Frank Lloyd Wright houses as well as two homes built by Wright apprentice, Peter Bernsten, Balter House and Blum House. Choose from a variety of tour options to suit your needs.
These Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Pennsylvania offer a particularly complete look at Wright’s career and his influence on future architects.
While touring, you’ll also learn some of Wright’s peculiarities. He was certainly a complex man!
Only a few Frank Lloyd Wright houses were built in Pennsylvania. But, as time goes on, it’s hard to say how many Frank Lloyd Wright houses are in Pennsylvania, because Polymath Park is dedicated to preserving as many as they can!
I think you’ll find the Great Wright Road Trip as interesting and informative as I did!
Money Saving Tips to visit Frank Lloyd Wright houses in PA and NY
We love saving money on trips — that means more for food and shopping!
Use these tips to save on your Great Wright Road Trip. You can use these tips to save on admission to Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Pennsylvania and New York, and even at properties beyond this region!
- Purchase a Museum Contributor Membership. For $100, this membership includes admission for two to 37 Wright sites across the United States including Graycliff, Martin House, the Fontana Boathouse and Fallingwater. Note: You can purchase a Contributor Membership from any of the participating FLW locations.
- Check Visit Erie for vacation packages for your vacation stay.
- Save on your Laurel Highlands vacation with these special offers.
- Save on Pennsylvania vacations with deals offered by the state tourism board.
We encourage you to check out our Travel Resources page to save money on your trip! This page includes links to the money saving tools I use to plan travel for my family! I provide them for your convenience so you can save, too!
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