Saturday, July 23, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob

The Hagan House

During my recent pilgrimage to Frank Lloyd Wright's celebrated Kaufmann residence "Fallingwater" I also had an opportunity to visit "Kentuck Knob", another nearby Wright residence. Kentuck Knob is one of Wright's last homes. It is located about 4 miles uphill from Fallingwater.

The Hagan's were wealthy Pennsylvania dairy owners who were friends with the Kaufmann's. After spending time at Fallingwater the Kaufmann's decided to approach Wright for a home design of their own. Edgar Kaufmann put them in contact advising them to plan on spending twice whatever budget they set for Wright.

Wright began design the home in 1953, with construction completed in 1956. At the time the project began Wright was 86 years old and very busy with the Guggenheim Museum. He is said to have accepted the commission saying that, despite being busy, he could "shake it (the design) out of my sleeve".

Wright never dedicated a trip to visit the Hagan site but did make a detour to visit during construction while on a visit to Fallingwater.

Wright's "of the hill" concept is in evidence here.

A Crescent Shaped Usonian "Deluxe" Home

Of The Hill

When the site was selected it had a spectacular view due to a tree blight that had cleared the ridge of trees. Mrs. Hagan had thousands of trees planted and today the house, although still lovely, is in a forest without those territorial views.

  The View Afforded Before The Replanted Trees

The Hagan's were enthusiastic and respectful clients. Mrs. Hagan did, however, make certain design needs clear and Wright adjusted his design to enlarge a tiny dining area. He also raised the kitchen ceiling and his window design was revised to allow human beings the ability to actually clean them. Despite not seeing it completed, Wright was clearly proud of the Hagan house "signing" it with one of his red signature medallions (which were reserved for projects he felt were his best).

 Looking Into the Dining Area

 The Living Room

The house has the usual Wright quirks, narrow corridors, areas with very low ceilings etc. But despite that the Hagan's loved the house and went on to live in it for 30 years.

 The Linear Terrace

By 1986, the Hagan's now in advanced years, offered the house and grounds for sale. It was then acquired by the current owner, Lord (Peter) Palumbo.

Lord Palumbo has made the home and grounds available for tours while transforming the site into an outdoor sculpture garden. Lord Palumbo resides in the house seasonally and when we toured the hint of cigar smoke confirmed he was in residence.

Photography inside the home during tours is not permitted. So my photographs into the house were taken from the exterior through doors and windows.

Personally, aside from the home itself, I could have spent hours admiring Lord Palumbo's art and the beautifully composed family photographs that adorn each room.

I was also delighted to find that Lord Palumbo has acquired one of the little chairs from the Coonley playhouse. My mother played in the playhouse when she was 5 or 6 years old (when the Kroehler's owned that home). It was fun imagining mom sitting in that chair.

Kentuck Knob is an exceptional home. It was meticulously created and has been loved and treated with exceptional care.

Kentuck Knob tour reservations may be made on line. There is a gift shop and a cafe in the old greenhouse (Hagan ice cream is served).

Roadboy's Travels © 2016

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