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Images of Bear Run ... in the Years Before Fallingwater
Rare Photographic Postcards of a Bygone Era Where Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Modern House
Masterpiece Over a Waterfall for the Kaufmanns

See Fallingwater Today along with details from our 2004 reunion 
and our special booklet, Fallingwater: A Long Family Affair.

Kaufmann's Department Store, Pittsburgh, circa 1909

In the years before Fallingwater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Edgar J. Kaufmann department store family of Pittsburgh, the spectacular landscape was owned by the Masonic Country Club and later by the Syria Improvement Association, an arm of the Masons. The Masons built a club house, a dance pavilion, cottages and other buildings for use by members as a weekend retreat. Later, in about 1913, the Kaufmann's Department Store bought the property for use by its women employees as a summer club.

By the 1920s, according to Donald Hoffman's book, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: The House and Its History, the grounds were used for "tennis, swimming, volleyball, hiking, hayrides, picnicking, sunbathing, singing, theatre and 'quiet' reading." The Kaufmanns bought the property outright in about 1932, and within a few years designs for Fallingwater were underway. 

Cousins who worked at Fallingwater under the Kaufmanns over the decades from the 1930s to the 1990s, and honored at our 2004 national family reunion, were Ralph Miner, Lester and Mildred (Anderson) Miner, Oakey and Gertrude (Shroyer) Harbaugh, and Frank Miner.

   

Above: the famed, pristine falls, circa 1910, not yet touched by human hands

   

Above left: the rocky waters of Bear Run. Right: men apparently capturing pure mountain water along Bear Run's "Silver Spring."

       

Above left and right: unknown man in suit and hat stands atop a large rock on the Syria Country Club property, circa 1909, near what at that time was the Lindsay Cottage and today is behind the maintenance building at Fallingwater.

Above left: the famed "Hangover" cabin that Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann built circa 1921 for use on weekends, about 1,500 feet to the southeast of the falls where Fallingwater would someday emerge. Above right: the "Spray Rock Cottage"  also known as the Porter cottage where Fallingwater's guest house now stands.

  

Above: two views of the famed "Club House" built by the Masonic Country Club, about 1,100 feet to the southeast of the falls.

Club and annex of the Kaufmann summer camp, where Ralph and Leola Miner resided from 1956 to 1963

    

Above left: the "Club House." Above right: a quiet road leading to the property.

 

Above left: the "Back to Nature" cottages. Right: the Arbutus cottage.

     

Above left: a trout hatchery located just a few hundred feet upstream from the falls. Right: the Stone cottage.

Above: the bridge and Porter Cottage, where Fallingwater later would be constructed, with the cottage torn down to make room for the guest house. Published in Donald Hoffmann's Frank Lloyd Wright"s Fallingwater: The House and Its History

Copyright 2004-2006, 2009-2010, 2014 Mark A. Miner. 
All images courtesy of the Minerd.com Archives.