Thursday, September 6, 2012

PGH Book #8: Fallingwater Rising

Confession: This book took me like three months to read. It's a behemoth. Well, for someone who somehow neglected to read anything of importance in 2011, it was a behemoth. But I made it through! It only took several renewals from the Carnegie Library (I even had to return the book once because I had renewed it too many times) and a good solid Sunday of reading last weekend to get to the end. I may be making this seem way more taxing than it was, because I truly enjoyed this book. Before reading this, I had picked through Franklin Toker's Pittsburgh: A New Portrait (which, if you have not got a copy of this on your shelves and you love Pittsburgh like I do, you need to correct that ASAP). I really enjoy his writing style, and taking in his recap of Fallingwater from the very beginning was enlightening and fun. (In the latter chapters, he recaps some of the "bitchiness" between Wright and the Kaufmanns, and it is highly enjoyable.)

If you're interested in undertaking Fallingwater Rising, I would highly suggest first visiting Fallingwater (especially if you're a Pittsburgh resident). Maybe it's just me, but I thought it would have been really difficult to imagine the architectural descriptions of the house without having experienced myself, which I had the opportunity to do while I was back in Pittsburgh visiting in the summer of...2008? 2009? It doesn't much matter what year I was there. This place is completely timeless.

This house, simply put, is amazing.

What's even MORE amazing is something I discovered in the final pages of the book. When I read it, I was floored. I had to read it three or four times to make sure I wasn't seeing things:

Here is the quote in it's entirety, from the chapter Edgar Kaufmann Jr., The True Lord of Fallingwater: Working in the Oliver Building in Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh were Ethel Clinton Appel as the estate supervisor, and her assistants, Joseph Johnson, and Julia Tompkins. Those three plus E. J.'s old accountants Philip Smith and A. E. Rowland, also ran the Kaufmann Foundation out of the same office.

Why is this so significant? My first name is Allison. My middle name is Elisabeth. My last name is Rowland. I am A. E. Rowland. What makes it even weirder is that I worked for two years in the Oliver Building downtown. (The law firm I work for has since moved to PPG Place.) Sometimes life throws you these insane coincidences. Everything about this one is so awesome. 

Just like Fallingwater.

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