Inspiration: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob
Kentuck Knob, or the Hagan House is a National Historic Landmark. It was designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is at 723 Kentuck Road, Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania, about four miles south of Fallingwater, probably Wright’s most famous house.
My cousin just visited Kentuck Knob with her family and posted pictures. I had never heard of it, so I did some research.
Kentuck Knob is Usonian. What is Usonian? It was new to me. Frank Lloyd Wright invented the word. It is from US, the United States. Not American Style, America is two continents. Wright is probably best known for designing Prairie house designs. He developed Usonian houses to be well designed and affordable. He designed them to be prefab house kits with easily assembled pre-cut materials.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses have low roofs. Skylights and windows provide a lot of light. The houses include built-in furniture. Like his Prairie style homes, they use natural materials, unpainted wood, brick, stone and a lot of glass.
Usonian homes were relatively small, around 1500 square feet, with a single story and no attic or basement. They could be built on a concrete slab. They had open floor plans with few inside walls. The kitchen, dining room and living room are a single living area. Many had a carport instead of a garage.
Usonian Automatic houses were built of concrete blocks on a slab. Wright liked decorative and patterned concrete blocks. Usonian Automatic could be built by less skilled laborers, perhaps even the home owner. Many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian innovations are what we now think of as Midcentury Modern.
Frank Lloyd Wright built more than a hundred Usonian houses during his lifetime and Kentuck Knob is a good example. It was one of the last houses Wright completed.
Kentuck Knob’s Usonian Features
Kentuck Knob, like so many of Wright’s homes, was designed to fit into its setting. The house is L-shaped, wrapping around a courtyard.
The walls of the flat-roofed carport and studio are built into the knob on one side.
A stone planter finishes the other side.
Kentuck Knob is built into the hillside. Wright believed that homes should be in harmony with their natural surroundings.
A six-sided stone core rises above the hipped roof at the intersection of the living and bedroom wings.
Kentuck Knob is roofed with copper and has copper lighting. The copper has verdigrised to green.
The house is built of natural materials; tidewater red cypress, glass, and native sandstone.
The design incorporates a lot of light. The wings face south and west, to best catch the sun.
There are skylights on the porch.
The skylights are hexagonal, like the stone core of the house.
Who were the Hagans?
The Hagans had a dairy business. They were friends with the Kaufmanns, owners of Fallingwater, so they asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house for them.
Why is it called Kentuck Knob?
A knob is a prominent round hill. The house is built on a knob in the Kentuck District of Stewart Township. An early settler, David Askins, planned to go to Kentucky. When he didn’t, he renamed the area he was in Little Kentuck.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright lived from June 8, 1867 till April 9, 1959. He designed over a thousand buildings. He built Fallingwater in 1935 when he was 67 years old. He was 86 when he built Kentuck Knob.
Wright was also an interior designer. Many of his designs included the furnishings. He included built-in furniture at Kentuck Knob.
The house had built-in seating and shelves.
This photo also shows built-in seating and shelving.
Wright believed that homes and other buildings should be in harmony with both the setting and the people living in them. His Prairie School movement revolutionized architecture. Wright’s Usonian homes were an innovation in affordable housing.
Featured Image: Photo by Jeff Kubina, Columbia, Maryland