Mrs. T and I tied the knot a month ago yesterday. Two days later we launched our honeymoon by checking into one of our favorite hiding places. Alas, a lingering virus left us both too sick and tired to do much more than sleep late, take long naps, and go to bed early. It was, however, rejuvenating to eat our delightful host’s generous breakfasts and look out our picture window to see the Delaware River at its most autumnal.
A few days after that, we drove to western Pennsylvania to tour Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest houses. I’d visited Fallingwater once before, but Hilary had never seen the house other than in photographs. It had the same effect on her that it has on most first-timers, especially since we treated ourselves to an in-depth two-hour tour led by a formidably well-informed docent named Ute-Jutta Crooks. “It’s like a church,” Mrs. T said afterward. “I don’t know whether I’d want to live there, but I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.” Kentuck Knob, by contrast, was more her idea of a place to hang your hat. (Mine, too.)
My own feelings about Fallingwater remain more or less the same today as they were in 2003:
I think it would be a profoundly soul-satisfying experience to live in Fallingwater–if you were rich enough to afford a staff of servants and young enough to negotiate the stairs….
Fallingwater is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the world, fully deserving of its singular reputation. I’ve never seen a more beautiful house in my life. But I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if in the very long run, Wright’s Usonian houses [of which Kentuck Knob is an example] prove to have been a more significant contribution to Western culture–which is the surprising conclusion I drew from my visit to Fallingwater.
Be that as it may, Fallingwater, like all masterpieces, profits from repeated viewing. It is far too complicated to give up all its secrets, or even very many of them, in the course of a single visit. Hilary and I are already raring to go back again–preferably on a somewhat warmer day.
(Incidentally, I commend to your attention this delightfully unselfconscious memoir by Bernardine Hagan, one of the original owners of Kentuck Knob. She loved it there.)
From Wrightland we drove across Pennsylvania to Malvern, the well-heeled Philadelphia suburb that is home to People’s Light & Theatre, a company I’d been wanting to see ever since I first heard its name. The show we saw there, a new English-language version of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author that I praised lavishly in The Wall Street Journal, has recently been extended through November 11. If you live in or near Philadelphia, I urge you to see it–and to dine at Places, PL&T’s excellent on-site bistro, where Mrs. T and I raised a champagne toast to our good fortune.
(To be continued)