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Trip Rewind: Frank Lloyd Wright Kentuck Knob, Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania

Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob

Some people collect coins, others baseball cards, but I collect Frank Lloyd Wright House Tours. Sure it’s a little weird. It’s not like I can take the house with me once I finish the tour but when ever I travel if there is a Frank Lloyd Wright structure in the area I try to find a tour.

As of 2013 I have been to and/or on tours of 10 structures. Not all structures allow tours much to my dismay. 10 is a mere blip on the radar but I hope to make it to Chicago on day (hopefully soon), which is an area heavily saturated with FLW structures.

Kentuck Knob Exterior
Kentuck Knob Exterior

This day however would be an important one for me as it would add to my “collection” of Frank Lloyd Wright house tours. I would be taking two different house tours in one day, one at Kentuck Knob and the other at Fallingwater.

I have always found Wright to be fascinating as his attention to detail and obsession to do things the “Wright” way can be seen in any of his work. Any yahoo can slap up a house but Wright had a passion for what he did down to the most minute detail. For example he made a dress for the lady of the house at the GrayCliff Estate in Derby, New York. He wanted her to look like she went with the house.

Kentuck Knob's outside patio
Kentuck Knob’s outside patio

Kentuck Knob is often overlooked by the better known nearby Fallingwater but I feel it can hold it’s own.  Before the tour started Laura and I waited by the front door where I located the famous Cherokee red tile that Wright affixed to most of his houses.  It was his signature stamp on the building.

If for any reason a FLW structure with a red tile is modified the tile is to be removed. I have been to structures that have been clearly modified and the red tile still remains.

Construction on Kentuck Knob began in 1953 and finished in 1956. Never one to become complacent, even at the age of 86 years old, Wright crafted this Usonian home with as much care and enthusiasm as he did any other home he worked on. Usonian refers to a home built for a middle-income family. Kentuck Knob’s price tag was $96,000 USD. What I wouldn’t give to pay $96,000 for a Wright home now!

As our tour began we filed into the house’s main living space. The high windows had Cypress wooden cutout details that just so happened to be all the angles used within the house. It looked like a cleaning nightmare but Wright houses were never about making it easy for the homeowner 🙂

As we walked around the house I found the hallways rather tight. It was later explained that was on purpose.  Wright felt that since you do not spend much time in the hallways that the space of the home should be used for living space instead. Great idea but sort of a pain if you ever moved. I am sure he assumed no one would ever want to move from one of his houses, however.

After we finished touring the house we were led to the sculpture walk. The house was sold in 1986 to Lord Palumbo of London England for $600,000 USD – a pretty decent profit for the original owners if I may say so. The Palumbo family still uses the home as a vacation house which is one reason why you are not allowed to take interior photos of the house. The Palumbo’s are also responsible for adding the sculpture garden near the house. The garden includes such sculptures as the Red Army by Ray Smith, part of the Berlin wall and a huge oversized apple core by Claes Oldenburg.

Red Army by Ray Smith
Red Army by Ray Smith
Part of the Berlin Wall
Part of the Berlin Wall
Apple Core by Claes Oldenburg
Apple Core by Claes Oldenburg

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