Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in southwest Pennsylvania, is among the most iconic homes in the world.
It was built in 1939 for the Kaufmann family. Edgar Kaufmann jr. — yes, with a lower case “j” — inherited Fallingwater after his father’s death in 1955 and later donated it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In 1975, he and his life partner, the architect and designer Paul Mayén, built their own impressive home in the Hudson Valley.
Known as “Water Run,” the oval-shaped 7,500-square-foot home is a modernist marvel, featuring symmetrical wings, circular glass walls and iconic pieces of built-in furniture and lighting fixtures designed by Mayén. Outdoors, the 15-acre property is laced with winding paths and pools, follies, grottos, waterfalls and even small pyramids.
Kaufmann jr. died in 1989; Mayén in 1999.
Water Run is currently owned by artist and gallery owner Marylyn Dintenfass, who is selling it. The property is listed at $3,745,000 with Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty.
Dintenfass and her late husband, John Driscoll, learned about Water Run through a brochure that a savvy Putnam County real estate agent had circulated among gallery owners in New York city. Driscoll owned the Driscoll Babcock Galleries.
“At the time, we were looking for a place in the country so we went to see it and it was overwhelming,” says Dintenfass. “We actually went back to see it six or seven times. It was really the garden that John was enthralled with. I think he saw the house as representing this kind of aesthetic; a creative and historical modern house, but the garden gave a whole other plan for it; he was really inspired.”
Dintenfass said as built, the home was not family friendly nor ideal for entertaining.
“It was created by a male without a family and his spouse was Edgar Kaufmann jr. They owned four homes so were spending differing amounts of time in them,” she explained.
“It was visually a beautiful house, but it wasn’t geared for comfort or for family or for entertaining, so we did a lot to add to the functionality and the comfort of the house and the ability to entertain family and friends.”
Dintenfass said it was an ideal place to display her work, which often features circular motifs.
The design of Water Run features many circular elements, including an office with curved window walls and half-circle, half-height book shelves, and an undulating corridor paved with bright red tile that connects the main house to a wing with an indoor pool.
There is lots of glass, stone, metal and reflective surfaces throughout.
“I like modern; I like having the outside come in,” she said. “I like my work being hung in sort of a comfortable setting, of clean lines and this uncluttered house appeals to me visually and psychologically.”
Dintenfass’s work is found in major public collections around the world, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Over the years, the couple changed an entrance and added a patio and a terrace, but otherwise Water Run is as its builders intended. Dintenfass noted that most of the built-in furniture, including an impressive cantilevered dining room table, is intact. “A lot of the furniture is built in; it was made for the house.”
The home is comprised of two structures with that dramatic 83-foot glass walkway connecting the buildings. There are five bedrooms and six bathrooms, an exercise room, wet bar and four fireplaces.
That bright red accent shows up throughout the property, along the roof edges of the main home and even on a stripe of red tile that leads into, and out of, the indoor pool which is clad in green tile.
Outdoors, Water Run is as spectacular, with ponds, winding streams, a cascading waterfall, a ‘scent’ garden, spruce room, poet’s corner, long, defined walking paths, classical statuary and a tennis court with a unique amphitheater-like viewing area.
“One can feel the peace and harmony of the garden, seeing and experiencing it, only by walking through it. Photos do not do it justice,” said listing agent Richard Ellis.
Dintenfass said over the years, it was a special space for entertaining in “the most creative ways,” mentioning summer solstice parties that featured Isadora Duncan’s Dance Company in the garden; end-of-summer blues parties where everything, including the food, was blue.
“We did family dinners and holidays and New Year’s Eve parties; in every situation, there was always a different environment, and to me, as an artist, setting it up and arranging was great.”
Like this house?
1 Webb Trail Garrison
Taxes: $41,950 estimated
Listing contact: Richard Ellis, broker, Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty, Nyack, New York, 914-393-0438; [email protected]