It is no secret to my friends and regulars to this blog that I have something of a fascination with Fallingwater, the house American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Edgar J. Kaufmann and his family in the mid-1930s.
Located in the in the Laurel Highlands of southwest Pennsylvania, the house is one of Wright’s most iconic designs, sitting as it does within woodland and partially built over a waterfall on Bear Run, a tributary of the the Youghiogheny River. It’s hard not to fall in love with it when seeing it for the first time in person or in picture or film, and I’ve reproduced it in-world for my own use on multiple occasions.
In this, I’m hardly alone; there have been a fair number over their years built with varying degrees of accuracy. However, none – my own included – come anywhere close to the original as does the Fallingwater build by Miltone Marquette. It is exquisitely detailed and painstakingly accurate; and thanks to a personal invitation from Miltone, I was able to pay a visit at the start of October 2022.
Miltone has a long personal association with Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs both in the physical world and in Second Life. In terms of the latter, he was one of the principal builder at the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum from its inception through until its unfortunate closure. his physical world interest reaches all the way back to his childhood, and has grown ever since.
Many years ago, my father would take the family on a Sunday drive around town and we stopped by the Dorothy Turkel house in Detroit; there was this reverence in Dad’s voice when he said, “This is a Frank Lloyd Wright house.”
In later years I discovered that a business associate was a big Wright-o-phile and took me around to some of the FLW houses in the area. I was hooked. Second life is a perfect place to explore Wright’s organic building concepts, and Fallingwater is the most perfect expression of those concepts; and while I build here to satisfy my own curiosity and interests, I do enjoy sharing my work with others.
– Miltone Marquette
With Fallingwater he has – like most who have sought to reproduce it virtually – focused on the main family house (the original property can be broadly divided into three structures: the family home, the Guest House sitting on the hill above and behind it, and the garages with staff bedrooms over, sitting perpendicular to the Guest House). In keeping with the original, the house is reached via the driveway as it passes over Bear Run on a single-track bridge to sweep around the house and under the car port alongside the front door, before (in the original) winding on up the hill and back on itself to reach the garages above.
Given Miltone and I worked from the same source material (albeit unknown to one another) and we both used the Erlanger scale in-world, our respective builds are very similar in terms of scale and size. However, when in comes to interior décor, Miltone has genuinely brought his build to life in a way I never have. His build is a house where every room is faithfully reproduced, from the Great Room through all of the bedrooms and bathrooms up to the uppermost balcony, and out through the kitchen and staff lounge and down into the basement rooms (the latter of which I never attempted to include).
All the furnishings have been reproduced to accurately represent their physical world counterparts, whilst the ornaments and fittings have been carefully selected to match those found in the house and on its terraces, as Miltone explained:
I would be remiss in not mentioning the decorative skills of SummerSails who studied photos and scoured SL for suitable furnishings. But I chose to use the dining chair design that Wright recommended, but which only got to be used in the Guest House; I much prefer Wright’s design over those purchased by Mrs. Kaufmann in Europe and used in the dining area. Also, the floor lamps are based on sketches left behind by Wright for lamps that the Kaufmanns never commissioned.
– Miltone Marquette
There are also some “non-canon” – so to speak – touches to be found in memory of Wright and of Miltone’s father. On the main landing, for example, a black-and-white photo of Wright at Taliesin (his home) can be found; whilst above the desk in the Great Room hangs a reproduction of a 2-cent postage stamp featuring Wright. This is a copy of a stamp Miltone discovered in his father’s footlocker, and so forms a nice memento – although Miltone prefers to describe it as being “so folks can get my 2 cents worth of FLW”!
Across the river from Fallingwater are two more of Miltone’s creations reproducing famous Wright houses / house styles. Sitting alongside the local highway where they are periodically passed by tour pods, these are the Robie House of Chicago, and the Jacobs House of Madison, Wisconsin; both are – like Fallingwater – US National Historic Landmarks.
The Frederick C. Robie House – generally referred to as the Robie House -, with its distinctive walls and roofs, is located on what is now the campus of the University of Chicago. It pre-dates Fallingwater, having been built between 1909 and 1910, and is today considered the finest example of Prairie School, the first architectural style of house considered uniquely American.
Meanwhile, the Jacobs House – also called the Jacobs First House, given Wright designed two houses for Herbert and Katherine Jacobs – is contemporaneous to Fallingwater, having been built in 1937. It is considered to be the first Usonian home Wright designed. Both it and the Robie House are again exquisitely detailed inside and out, and beautifully reflect their physical world namesakes.
In the physical world, the Robie and Jacobs houses are managed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation whilst Fallingwater is in the care of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy at the behest of Edgar Kaufmann Jr. Seeing all three requires planning, time and travel. Within Second Life they are all curated by Miltone as their creator, and visitors are able to tour all of them with considerably more ease. Should you wish to do so, please contact Miltone in-world via IM or note card, and he’ll work with you to arrange a mutually convenient time for a tour.
And just in case you need further convincing, I’ll leave you with a film by Suzie Anderton and available on her You Tube channel, which offers a taste of the beauty of Fallingwater in Second Life.
Again, if you would like to visit these iconic builds, please contact Miltone Marquette in-world.
- Frank Lloyd Wright Wikipedia biography
- The official Fallingwater website
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
- Fallingwater at Wikipedia
- Robie House at Wikipedia
- Jacobs House at Wikipedia