Kentuck Knob in Fayette County is a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home built in 1954 for Isaac and Bernardine Hagan, founders of the Hagan Ice Cream company in nearby Uniontown, PA.
Hagan was the first commercial manufacturer of ice cream west of the Allegheny Mountains, dating back to 1922.
History of Kentuck Knob
The Hagans were friends of the Kauffman family from Pittsburgh, and spent a good deal of time at the Kauffman’s Fallingwater summer home in Fayette County, which was also designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Hagans decided they wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home of their own, so they purchased an 80-acre parcel of land in Fayette County known locally as “Kentuck Knob” and hired Wright to design the home.
Features of Kentuck Knob
The Hagan House at Kentuck Knob is an example of what Wright called a Usonian home, his concept of what an affordable American home for the masses should look like.
Wright’s Usonian homes were typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage – he believed garages simply attracted clutter (which I can confirm is true!) and in fact he is credited with coining the term “carport”.
Construction characteristics of Usonian homes included using native materials, flat roofs with cantilevered overhangs, lots of natural lighting, and radiant floor heating.
In the case of the Hagan House at Kentuck Knob, construction materials included sandstone which was quarried on-site, Tidewater Cypress wood, and copper for the roof.
Tidewater Cypress contains Cypressene, an oil that acts as a natural preservative, which makes it extraordinarily resistant to rot and insect damage.
The Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for 30 years, until health concerns made living on the mountain impractical any longer.
In 1986 they sold Kentuck Knob to British property developer and art collector Peter Palumbo, who remains the current owner and operates Kentuck Knob as a museum and tourist attraction featuring not only the Hagan House, but an extensive collection of sculptures and art installations as well.
Touring Kentuck Knob
Today, visitors are permitted to tour the Hagan House and Kentuck Knob grounds 10 months out of the year (closed January and February).
Tours begin at the Visitor Center, located roughly a half-mile down the hill from the Hagan House itself.
If the building reminds you of a greenhouse, that’s because it WAS once a greenhouse at Fallingwater, gifted to the Hagans by their friends the Kauffmans.
There is also a well-appointed gift shop at the Visitor Center, with all sorts of Kentuck Knob and Frank Lloyd Wright-related books and memorabilia.
A shuttle bus transports tourists from the Visitor Center to the front of the Hagan House.
Touring the Hagan House
The standard 45 minute tour of the interior of the Hagan House is led by one of Kentuck Knob’s experienced and knowledgeable tour guides.
You should know up front that no photography is permitted inside the house, although you are free to take as many photos from outside as you want.
Fortunately, there are a large number of public domain photos of the interior of the home from when the Hagans still lived there.
The interior of the Hagan House today looks remarkably similar to these historic photos.
The main differences in the family room you’ll notice is that the carpeting has been removed, some of the furnishings themselves are different, and the woodburner the Hagans had installed in the fireplace space has been removed.
The removal of the carpeting is a huge upgrade in my opinion, revealing the natural beauty of the stone floors (not to mention making maintenance easier with tours coming through 10 months out of the year).
The dining room looks similar to this historic photo except for the table and chairs.
The kitchen looks nearly identical to the Hagan days, except for different artwork.
The master bedroom has had the carpeting removed and features the artwork of the new owner, but otherwise structurally looks identical to how it did when it was first built.
Touring the Exterior of Kentuck Knob
Visitors are encouraged to walk around the exterior of the Hagan House at Kentuck Knob, so that you can appreciate it from many different perspectives.
The patio area at the back of the house would have been an especially tranquil place to sit and take in the natural surroundings.
The woodwork is in incredibly good shape, a testament to Wright’s choice of materials.
Also be sure to check out the scenic vista a bit further back from the patio – talk about a million-dollar view!
It’s remarkable how the house seems to just “emerge” from the hillside, a trademark of Wright’s designs.
Of all the exterior vantage points at Kentuck Knob, this was my personal favorite.
Art Installations at Kentuck Knob
As I mentioned previously, the current owner of Kentuck Knob is also an art collector, and has installed many interesting pieces around the house and along a walking trail that you can take back down to the Visitor Center, if you choose.
The Woodland Trail, which passes the Sculpture Meadow, is approximately a half-mile long.
This boulder cairn caught my eye.
As did this section of the Berlin Wall, which once separated East and West Germany and now stands as a silent sentinel in a western PA forest.
If you are physically able to, I definitely encourage you to walk the trail and enjoy the artwork; otherwise you can take the shuttle bus back down to the Visitor Center.
And be sure to check out the birdhouses near the Visitor Center – works of architectural art in their own rights!
The Hagan House at Kentuck Knob is one of the most unique homes you will ever have a chance to tour!
The home is both a time capsule and timeless, a tribute to the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright.
For the most up-to-date hours, directions, and to schedule your own visit to Kentuck Knob, please visit Kentuck Knob’s OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
Fallingwater, perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright’s most-recognized masterpiece, is located just a few miles from Kentuck Knob.
In 1991, an American Institute of Architects poll voted it “the best all-time work of American architecture”, and you really MUST visit Fallingwater while you’re in the area!
Not only is the Jumonville Cross in Fayette County the tallest cross in Pennsylvania, it’s also a spectacular scenic overlook!
12 Must-See Attractions in Fayette County is your guide to even more great destinations close to Kentuck Knob.
10 of the Best Hiking Trails at Ohiopyle State Park is your guide to the best trails at nearby Ohiopyle State Park.
10 Must-See Waterfalls at Ohiopyle State Park is your guide to Ohiopyle’s biggest and best waterfalls!
Nearby Laurel Caverns is billed as “Pennsylvania’s Largest Cave”, and is a great way to spend an hour or two BENEATH Fayette County!
Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Fayette County is where the first shots of the French and Indian War were fired.
Looking for a place to call home when visiting Kentuck Knob?
Discover Ohiopyle offers an array of rustic cottages and cabins, luxurious honeymoon spots and retreats, hotels, campgrounds, and even more unique options, like tree houses!
If you’re looking for a Fayette County lodging experience like no other, look no further than Discover Ohiopyle.
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