Located deep in the woods of the Laurel Highlands is one of Pennsylvania’s best Frank Lloyd Wright homes: Kentuck Knob.
Kentuck Knob sits on the outskirts of Ohiopyle State Park, less than four miles as a bird flies from Wright’s most famous creation, Fallingwater, and less than an hours drive from more of his homes at Polymath Park.
Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve heard people state over and over again that of all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, their favorite to tour is Kentuck Knob.
Kentuck Knob was built into the hillside near the summit of a mountain between 1953 and 1956. Also known as the Hagan House after the home’s original owners, I.N. and Bernardine Hagan, the home was designed, like Fallingwater, to feel seamless with the surrounding nature.
This home was one of the last drawn up by Frank Lloyd Wright, and he only visited the site once during construction. This lack of oversight allowed for a few modifications to be made to the home that would not have been approved by Wright had he had more control over the process.
The Hagans lived in the home for 30 years before selling the home to Lord Peter Palumbo. Starting in 1996, Palumbo opened the house for tours while still using the home as a vacation property.
Today, Kentuck Knob is open for tours throughout the year (except for January and February when the home is closed). Most visitors opt for the standard 45-minute house tour, which is what I had the opportunity to take.
Tours start from a visitor center at the bottom of the hill. Visitors are then loaded onto a bus for a short trip up the hill to the home’s entrance near the crest of the hillside.
Starting from the driveway outside the home, visitors are given a great overview of the history of the home and its architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Even if you aren’t overly interested in architecture, the guides do a great job pointing out some of the unique highlights of the home’s design and show how it was well ahead of its time.
I must admit that while touring the home, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had told me that it had been built 15-20 years later than it was because much of its design is what I associate with the late 1960s and 1970s design.
The standard tour of the home takes you into each of the rooms of this one-story home while pointing out unique design elements and how the home was designed to look like it was growing out of the hillside.
Those wanting to learn more about the home and its design can take the 90-minute in-depth tour which really delves into the home’s design.
After tours are done, visitors have two options. You can take the bus back down to the visitor center or you can hike the half-mile Woodland Walk trail back down the hill.
If you are able, I highly recommend taking this hike as it allows you to see the 30 works of art accumulated on the property by Lord Palumbo and his family, including a piece of the Berlin Wall. A map and guide to the art are provided when you purchase a ticket for a tour.
Near the home, there is also a fantastic view of the Youghiogheny River Valley and the woods of Ohiopyle State Park. Without a doubt, this is one of the best vistas in the region and shouldn’t be missed.
Before leaving, make sure to sample some of the Hagan Ice Cream that is sold in the gift shop. This ice cream is made for Kentuck Knob utilizing the owner’s original recipes, and it’s a great way to end any visit to the property.
Having toured all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the Laurel Highlands, I must admit that Kentuck Knob seems to be the most liveable of them all. And, while I highly recommend touring Fallingwater while in the region, also touring Kentuck Knob offers a great look at how Wright’s design sensibilities changed over his career.
So, the next time you are visiting the Laurel Highlands in Southwestern PA, don’t miss the chance to tour Kentuck Knob.
Notes about Touring Kentuck Knob
There are a few notes worth mentioning about touring Kentuck Knob.
First off, sadly no interior photography is allowed. However, there is plenty of time for exterior photography. While the home might not be quite as striking from the exterior as Fallingwater, it’s still worthwhile to take the time to get some photos.
Secondly, children under the age of six are not allowed on any of the house tours (this includes handheld babies). This is similar to the policy at Fallingwater but is worth noting if you are traveling with younger children.
Lastly, should you not want to do a house tour, grounds passes are available for $12. These will allow you to do the Woodland Walk, see the great vista, and see the exterior of the home.
Note: My visit to Kentuck Knob was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Looking for more things to do nearby? Check out Cucumber Falls, Laurel Caverns, explore Nemacolin Woodlands, or see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Office at the Hagen History Center in Erie.
Hours: Tours available March-December. Times and days vary.
Standard Tour Cost: Adults: $28, Children: $18
Address: 723 Kentuck Road