Exploring Kentuck Knob in Fayette County

The Hagan House on Kentuck Knob in Fayette County Pennsylvania.

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.

Isaac and Bernardine Hagan standing in front of Kentuck Knob.
Isaac and Bernardine Hagan standing in front of Kentuck Knob (public domain photo).

Hagan was the first commercial manufacturer of ice cream west of the Allegheny Mountains, dating back to 1922.

Hagan ice cream is stilled served is the coffee shop at the Kentuck Knob Visitor Center.
Hagan ice cream is stilled served in the coffee shop at the Kentuck Knob Visitor Center.

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 "classic view" of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in the PA Laurel Highlands.
The “classic view” of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Fayette County.

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.

The distinctive honeycomb-shaped skylights in the red cypress overhang above the wrap-around porch at Kentuck Knob.
The distinctive honeycomb-shaped skylights in the red cypress overhang above the wrap-around porch at Kentuck Knob.

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.

Native sandstone, red cypress wood, and copper roof at Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob.
Native sandstone, red cypress wood, and copper roof.

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”.

Courtyard and carport at front of Hagan House at Kentuck Knob.
Courtyard and carport at front of Hagan House.

Construction characteristics of Usonian homes included using native materials, flat roofs with cantilevered overhangs, lots of natural lighting, and radiant floor heating.

Copper roof of Kentuck Knob.
Copper roof of Kentuck Knob.

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.

Front door at Kentuck Knob.
Front door at Kentuck Knob.

Tidewater Cypress contains Cypressene, an oil that acts as a natural preservative, which makes it extraordinarily resistant to rot and insect damage.

The wrap-around porch off the back of Kentuck Knob.
The wrap-around porch off the back of Kentuck Knob.

The Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for 30 years, until health concerns made living on the mountain impractical any longer.

Historical photo of the dining room at Kentuck Knob during the time the Hagans lived there.
Photo of the dining room at Kentuck Knob during the time the Hagans lived there (public domain image).

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.

British phone booth near the Visitor Center at Kentuck Knob.
This British phone booth is part of the Palumbo family art collection at Kentuck Knob.

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).

Entrance to Kentuck Knob in Fayette County Pennsylvania.
Entrance to Kentuck Knob in Fayette County.

Tours begin at the Visitor Center, located roughly a half-mile down the hill from the Hagan House itself.

The Visitor Center and Coffee Shop at Kentuck Knob.
Visitor Center and Coffee Shop at Kentuck Knob.

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.

Inside the coffee shop at Kentuck Knob.
Inside the coffee shop / former greenhouse at Kentuck Knob.

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.

The gift shop at Kentuck Knob.
The gift shop at Kentuck Knob.

A shuttle bus transports tourists from the Visitor Center to the front of the Hagan House.

The detailed red cypress woodwork layered between sandstone walls and copper roof at Kentuck Knob.
The detailed Tidewater Cypress woodwork layered between sandstone walls and copper roof at Kentuck Knob.

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.

Kentuck Knob is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Kentuck Knob is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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.

Looking into the family room at Kentuck Knob from the patio off the back of the house.
Looking into the family room at Kentuck Knob from outside on the wrap-around porch off the back of the house.

Fortunately, there are a large number of public domain photos of the interior of the home from when the Hagans still lived there.

Historical photo of the living room at Kentuck Knob during the time the Hagans lived there.
Historical photo of the living room during the time the Hagans lived there (public domain image).

The interior of the Hagan House today looks remarkably similar to these historic photos.

Family room during the time period when the Hagans resided at Kentuck Knob.
Family room during the time period when the Hagans resided at Kentuck Knob (public domain image).

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.

Carpeted family room and woodburner in the fireplace space during the Hagan's time at Kentuck Knob.
Carpeted family room and woodburner in the fireplace space during the Hagan’s time at Kentuck Knob (public domain image).

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).

Looking into the family room near the fireplace from outside.
Interior of the Hagan House in 2021, photographed from outside on the wrap-around porch.

The dining room looks similar to this historic photo except for the table and chairs.

HIstorical photo of the dining room looking into the kitchen at Kentuck Knob.
Historical photo of the dining room looking into the kitchen (public domain image).

The kitchen looks nearly identical to the Hagan days, except for different artwork.

Historical photo of the kitchen at Kentuck Knob.
Historical photo of the kitchen in the Hagan days (public domain image).

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.

The master bedroom and second fireplace at Kentuck Knob.
The master bedroom and second fireplace (public domain image).

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.

Kentuck Knob resembles a ship emerging from the hillside when viewed from below.
Kentuck Knob resembles a ship emerging from the hillside when viewed from below.

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 rear patio area at Kentuck Knob.
The rear patio area.

The woodwork is in incredibly good shape, a testament to Wright’s choice of materials.

Red cypress woodwork on Hagan House at Kentuck Knob.
Tidewater Cypress woodwork on Hagan House.

Also be sure to check out the scenic vista a bit further back from the patio – talk about a million-dollar view!

View from the back yard of Kentuck Knob, looking towards Ohiopyle State Park.
View from the back yard, looking towards Ohiopyle State Park.

It’s remarkable how the house seems to just “emerge” from the hillside, a trademark of Wright’s designs.

Native sandstone walls at Kentuck Knob in Fayette County Pennsylvania.
Native sandstone walls.

Of all the exterior vantage points at Kentuck Knob, this was my personal favorite.

The sandstone walls and cantilevered roof over the patio surrounding Kentuck Knob.
The sandstone walls and cantilevered roof over the wrap-around porch.

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.

Art installation above the courtyard at Kentuck Knob.
Art installation above the courtyard at Kentuck Knob.

The Woodland Trail, which passes the Sculpture Meadow, is approximately a half-mile long.

The Sculpture Meadow is located along the Woodland Trail at Kentuck Knob.
The Sculpture Meadow is located along the Woodland Trail

This boulder cairn caught my eye.

Boulder cairn art installation along the Woodland Walking Trail at Kentuck Knob.
Boulder cairn art installation along the Woodland Walking Trail.

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.

Part of the Berlin Wall on display along the Woodland Walking Trail at Kentuck Knob.
Part of the Berlin Wall on display along the Woodland Walking Trail.

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.

One of the art installations along the Woodland Trail at Kentuck Knob.
One of the art installations along the Woodland Trail.

And be sure to check out the birdhouses near the Visitor Center – works of architectural art in their own rights!

Birdhouses near the Visitor Center at Kentuck Knob.
Birdhouses near the Visitor Center.

Final Thoughts

The Hagan House at Kentuck Knob is one of the most unique homes you will ever have a chance to tour!

The Hagan House at Kentuck Knob.
The Hagan House.

The home is both a time capsule and timeless, a tribute to the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Refrigerator and cabinets in the kitchen at Kentuck Knob.
Refrigerator and cabinets in the kitchen (public domain photo).

For the most up-to-date hours, directions, and to schedule your own visit to Kentuck Knob, please visit Kentuck Knob’s OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hagan House at Kentuck Knob in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hagan House.

Nearby Attractions

Fallingwater, perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright’s most-recognized masterpiece, is located just a few miles from Kentuck Knob.

Fallingwater as seen from the "Classic View" on the Visitor Center map.
Fallingwater is just a few miles from Kentuck Knob in Fayette County, PA.

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!

Living room inside Fallingwater.
Living room inside Fallingwater (public domain image).

Not only is the Jumonville Cross in Fayette County the tallest cross in Pennsylvania, it’s also a spectacular scenic overlook!

Visiting the Jumonville Cross in 2022.
The Jumonville Cross stands 60 feet tall and is the largest cross in Pennsylvania.

12 Must-See Attractions in Fayette County is your guide to even more great destinations close to Kentuck Knob.

Fall foliage around the High Bridge at Ohiopyle State Park.
Fall foliage around the High Bridge at Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County.

10 of the Best Hiking Trails at Ohiopyle State Park is your guide to the best trails at nearby Ohiopyle State Park.

The author at Baughman Rock Overlook at sunrise.
The author along the Baughman Rock Trail at Ohiopyle State Park.

10 Must-See Waterfalls at Ohiopyle State Park is your guide to Ohiopyle’s biggest and best waterfalls!

Selfie at Lower Jonathan Run Falls, Ohiopyle State Park
The author at Lower Jonathan Run Falls, Ohiopyle State Park.

Nearby Laurel Caverns is billed as “Pennsylvania’s Largest Cave”, and is a great way to spend an hour or two BENEATH Fayette County!

The overhead Grand Canyon of Laurel Caverns.
The overhead Grand Canyon of Laurel Caverns.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Fayette County is where the first shots of the French and Indian War were fired.

The modern-day replica of Fort Necessity at the National Battlefield in Fayette County PA
Fort Necessity in Fayette County.

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!

An Ohiopyle vacation rental available through Discover Ohiopyle.
Photo courtesy of Discover Ohiopyle.

If you’re looking for a Fayette County lodging experience like no other, look no further than Discover Ohiopyle.

An Ohiopyle vacation rental home available through Discover Ohiopyle.
Photo courtesy of Discover Ohiopyle.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this wonderful and informative article. Amazing pics. Lifelong fan of Mr. Wrights work, been to over 50 of his residential and commercial buildings all over the country, including the 3 Usonian homes he built in Westchester, NY. Been to Fallingwater but never Kentuck Knob. Thanks for including some of the b&w Hagen’s public domain pics of the interior of KK, the kitchen is amazing, with those fold down style electric burners and the skylight illuminating that space well enough you don’t seem to miss having traditional windows. The region looks spectacular as well, being a nature lover, can’t wait to hit some of those trails, and splash in some of those rivers and waterfalls! Seriously inspiring article, thanks again! Already planning a trip there.

    • You’re welcome Adaria and yes – it’s a Nature lover’s paradise with Ohiopyle State Park literally 5 minutes away!

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