Monday, December 28, 2009

Wright Apprentice John Rattenbury Visits Kentuck Knob

Rattenbury and groupFROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Director Marianne Skvarla, Bernardine Hagan, John Rattenbury, Beverly Gardom

This summer the staff at Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob had the privilege to host a meeting between former Kentuck Knob owner, Bernardine Hagan, and former Wright Apprentice, John Rattenbury.

Pastries, coffee, and tea were served in the living room as staff listened to Mrs. Hagan and Mr. Rattenbury talk of their experiences with Mr. Wright.

Kentuck_RattenburyJohn Rattenbury at Kentuck Knob

One of the room's favorite stories was about ice cream. Mr. and Mrs. Hagan would often send gallons of their Hagan Ice Cream to Taliesin as a gift for Mr. Wright and the Apprentices. Mr. Rattenbury specifically remembers as many as fifty Apprentices, including himself, lining up for a scoop. And, who do you suppose was doling out those scoops? Mr. Wright, of course.

Hagan_Rattenbury signingBernardine Hagan signing her book for John Rattenbury

After the visit, Mr. Rattenbury and Mrs. Hagan signed copies of their books, including one for each other.

Photos by Jason Jack Miller

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kentuck Knob Presentation to Women's College Club of Pittsburgh

Recently, Heidi Ruby Miller visited the Women's College Club of Pittsburgh where she presented a slideshow featuring photos of Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob taken by Jason Jack Miller.

College Club of PittsburghCollege Club of Pittsburgh inside the Pittsburgh Athletic Association

Housed in the beautiful Pittsburgh Athletic Association building in Oakland, the club treated Heidi to a tour and a wonderful lunch before her talk.

Many thanks to Diane Owen who set everything up and to the members for making the presentation a delight.

We look forward to seeing the group when they visit Kentuck Knob this spring.

If you would like Heidi to do a presentation for your group, please contact her at or call 724/329-1901.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kentuck Knob's Pieces of the Berlin Wall

Fayette County in Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to three pieces of the Berlin Wall thanks to Lord Peter Palumbo, the current owner of Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob.

Kentuck Knob_Berlin Wall1Piece of the Berlin Wall in the Kentuck Knob Sculpture Meadow

PHOTO BY Jason Jack Miller

Two of the pieces are on the Kentuck Knob property: one at the entrance to the Sculpture Meadow and one at the top of the hill, near the house. The third is on display at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort ten minutes away in Farmington, PA. We are especially honored to have these historical reminders as the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is celebrated this week.

Kentuck Knob_Berlin Wall2Piece of the Berlin Wall near Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob

PHOTO BY Jason Jack Miller

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kentuck Knob at Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau Annual Dinner

Kentuck Knob LHVB 3BACK: Patricia Coyle, Laurie Bryner, Heidi Ruby Miller, Marianne Skvarla; FRONT: Robin and Monica Jackson

The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau held its annual dinner on Thursday, October 22, 2009, at the Fred M. Rogers Center on the St. Vincent College campus. The theme IT'S A WONDERFUL DAY IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD played not only on the meeting's locale, but also the bureau's new tourism campaign: Laurel Highlands Pennsylvania - A Place of Wonder.

The entertaining featured speaker, James Kane, shared with the group "The Secret to Creating Loyal Customers, Members, and Guests."

Representing Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob were Executive Director Marianne Skvarla, Assistant Director Monica Jackson, Marketing Director Patricia Coyle, Merchandising Director Robin Jackson, Cafe Director Laurie Bryner, and Educational Marketing Director Heidi Ruby Miller.

Kentuck_LHVB 2009Patricia Coyle and Marianne Skvarla from Kentuck Knob chatting with Brad Heiser of Fallingwater

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob by Donald Hoffmann

Kentuck Knob by Donald HoffmannFrank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob by Donald Hoffmann

Architectural critic Donald Hoffmann shares his insight into Frank Lloyd Wright and the designing of the I. N. and Bernardine Hagan House, affectionately known as Kentuck Knob. Filled with historical and architectural notes, Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob offers a glimpse into Mr. Wright's design aesthetic during the mid-1950s and his Usonian style. Hoffmann often utilizes graphics to show the versatility of the hexagonal modules which form the geometric base of the home.

Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob by Donald Hoffmann is available in stores and online at Amazon and other booksellers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Venture Outdoors Bike Tour to Stop at Kentuck Knob


Photo by Heidi Ruby Miller

Venture Outdoors is hosting the Wright Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage on Saturday, September 19, 2009.

This easy, ten-mile ride takes place in Ohiopyle State Park along the Great Allegheny Passage. A picnic lunch and tour of Kentuck Knob follows. The guided house tour and sculpture meadow exploration is included in Venture Outdoors's activity fee.

Date: Saturday, September 19
Location: Ohiopyle
Time: 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Cost: $37.00 non-member / $27.00 member / $20.00 kids

(Please note: the children’s rate of $20 is only available to children ages 6-12.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kentuck Knob on Pittsburgh G20 Summit Site

An article about Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob is now up on the Pittsburgh G20 Summit website under the Cultural Phenomenon section:

Kentuck Knob_Pittsburgh G20 Press PhotoEntrance to Kentuck Knob as seen through the carport

Photo by Jason Jack Miller

In 1954, Hagan Ice Cream owners I.N. and Bernardine Hagan contacted architect Frank Lloyd Wright via their friend Edgar J. Kauffmann, owner of Kaufmann's Department Stores and the architectural masterpiece Fallingwater. The Hagans wanted a Wright-designed home of their own for 80 acres of timbered farmland on a hilltop which maps referred to as Kentuck Knob, located in the Appalachians. The house, now owned by Lord Peter Palumbo, exemplifies Usonian traits such as horizontal lines and built-in furnishings, while conforming to Mr. Wright's principles of organic architecture through the use of natural materials like Pottsville Sandstone and Tidewater Red Cypress.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kentuck Knob Sunset Tour

Kentuck Knob_Sunset TourView from Kentuck Knob

Photo by Heidi Ruby Miller

Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob will offer Sunset Tours on Saturday, November 14, 2009 and Saturday, December 12, 2009 from 4:30 to 6:00 PM.

This late afternoon tour is given by senior guides and includes all private spaces in the home. Hors d’oeuvres are served while you relax in the living room. Space is limited to ten guests, but no less than two. The price is $100 per person.

For more information or to reserve a spot, please contact Kentuck Knob Marketing Director Patricia Coyle at or 724/329-1640.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kentuck Knob's Continuing Education Hours

Pennsylvania teachers can earn free PDE-Approved ACT 48 hours at Kentuck Knob. (We are currently seeking approval for continuing education hours for teachers in Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia.)

6 FREE Teacher Training Session Hours
• guided, personalized tour of the Kentuck Knob house
• guided, personalized tour of our extensive sculpture meadow
• creation of a lesson plan for your classroom from post-tour discussions

Due to the success of our Summer 2009 Educational Outreach Program, Kentuck Knob is happy to offer more teacher training sessions in May - August 2010 on Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM:

Other teacher training sessions can be added throughout the year as demand dictates. If you have questions or would like to book a teacher training session, please contact Educational Marketing Director Heidi Ruby Miller at for details.

Kentuck Knob_Heidi and Valerie teacher Valerie Cortis and Kentuck Knob Educational Marketing Director Heidi Ruby Miller

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright's House for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan

Kentuck Knob Book_HaganKentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright's House for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan by Bernardine Hagan

This hardcover book, written by Bernardine Hagan about her time working with Frank Lloyd Wright, is filled with documents, photos, and of course stories about Kentuck Knob, from its creative inception through the thirty years the Hagans called it home.

The beautiful photos were taken by I.N. Hagan and capture both the structural and the aesthetic.

You can order copies from the publisher The Local History Company or online at Amazon and other booksellers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday Brunch at Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob Art Room OutsideOutside of the Kentuck Knob Art Room Photo by Jason Jack Miller

Kentuck Knob would like to invite you to Sunday Brunch in Mrs. Hagan's private Art Room. This rare opportunity provides an intimate social event, wonderful food from local, fresh resources, and an extended house tour with a senior guide. When planning, please allow one hour to see the Sculpture Meadow and Gift Shop. The $100.00 per person event is limited to six guests, but no less than two. We recommend that all guests be at least 12 years of age.

Our Sunday Brunch Tours are 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM on these dates:

September 27
October 25
November 22
December 27

For more information, please contact Marketing Director Patricia Coyle at To book a reservation call 724/329-1901 or visit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kentuck Knob's Southern Terrace Tour

For a special treat on Friday, August 21 and Friday, September 4, 2009, try Kentuck Knob's Southern Terrace Tour.

After an extended evening tour of the house, guests will be invited to enjoy apple pie and Hagan's Pennsylvania Vanilla Ice Cream on the southern terrace adjacent to the living room, relaxing while the sun illuminates the home and surrounding foliage as it sets over the mountain.

The tour is $100.00 per person and limited to 10 guests, but no less than two.

For more information, please email Marketing Director Patricia Coyle at

To make reservations, please visit or call 724/329-1901.

Kentuck Knob Southern TerracePHOTO BY Jason Jack Miller

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teachers Contemplate Kentuck Knob's Sculpture Meadow

Kentuck Knob Teacher Session_Red ArmyPhoto by Jason Jack Miller

During a recent teacher training session for Kentuck Knob's Educational Outreach Program, instructor Heidi Ruby Miller (middle) discusses Ray Smith's Red Army with attendees Cynthia Mulligan and Joshua Scully.

An in-depth, guided tour of the property's expansive sculpture meadow is just one part of the continuing education sessions offered to teachers by Kentuck Knob.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Ever Evolving Landscape of Kentuck Knob

My great gardening mentor, Linden Miller, used to say, “Gardening is the slowest moving of the performing arts." As the horticulturist in charge of the breathtaking landscape at Kentuck Knob, I have the great pleasure of participating in the evolution of this historic landscape.PhotobucketIn 1953, I.N. and Bernardine Hagan began conversations with the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright about designing a house for them on an 80-acre property in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Wright chose the site, a “knob” or large bald hill, known to the locals as Kentuck Knob, where he carefully positioned the home just below the summit of the hill rather than on the top of it. This way the house seems to grow right out of the surrounding hillside. This fusion of architecture and landscape is integral to Mr. Wright’s concept of organic architecture; hence, the home becomes inextricable from the landscape.

Mr. Wright left all the details of the landscaping to the Hagans, saying only, “Keep it natural.”

In 1956, their first year living in the house, Mr. and Mrs. Hagan expanded the integration between the home and landscape by randomly planting 6,000 tree seedlings throughout the abandoned cornfield that descended down the north side of the knob. The receipt from Mussers Nursery in Indiana, PA, lists White Ash, White Oak, Pin Oak, Sugar Maple, Shellbark Hickory, Tulip Poplar, and Eastern Hemlock. On the south side of the knob, the native woodlands had been timbered and left a mess. Mr. and Mrs. Hagan went on to plant a total of over 8,800 tree seedlings in all, bringing the native woodlands back to life. Many of the remaining fields were allowed to recover naturally, and wildflowers were encouraged.

Bernardine Hagan was an accomplished gardener even before she moved to her new mountain home. She studied landscape design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and was drawn to Japanese gardens. Though the site at Kentuck Knob was not suitable for a traditional Japanese garden, she employed many of the concepts: gravel paths, stepping stone walks, and boulders as sculpture. In fact, Mrs. Hagan orchestrated a great effort by many dedicated local men to move large boulders around the site for just the right effect.

Robert Taylor of Carnegie Mellon helped design a prominent water feature on the back terrace, and Mrs. Hagan planted heaths, heathers, and many other cushion plants that spilled over the flagstones around it and into the pathway. She also kept bonsai plants on the terrace in the summer.

In 1986, Lord Peter Palumbo, drawn to the brilliant combination of location and design at Kentuck Knob, purchased the property from the Hagans. The Palumbo family have proved committed stewards of this living landscape and are currently working on a plan for an arboretum of native trees on the property. Labels identifying many remarkable specimens are currently being installed, especially near the visitors’ center and in the Sculpture Meadow. This expansive meadow, which houses works by world-renowned sculptors like Sir Anthony Caro and Andy Goldsworthy was turned into lawn some years ago, and is now part of an experiment to return many of the native wildflowers and grasses to this area.

Since the property has been open to the public in 1996, the heavy foot traffic has prohibited the kind of exuberant plantings that once decorated the flagstone pathways. And since no garden is ever static, the shade provided by maturing trees has also placed limits on restoring the previous plant palate. The result was a loss of the delicacy of some of the former design.

But, together with Bernardine Hagan, who celebrated her 100th birthday this year, and her good friend Eleanor Ulmer, the Palumbos are dedicated to preserving the continuity of the original garden design as it grows and changes over time. I, too, am honored to be a part of this wonderful undertaking, and I look forward to sharing it with visitors as it grows through the seasons.

-Laura Tebbitt
Kentuck Knob Director of Horticulture

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kentuck Knob Evening Picnic & Bonfire

Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob will be hosting an evening tour, picnic, and bonfire on Saturday, July 25, 2009, from 6:00-8:00 PM. The cost is $75.00 per person.

The Fazen-Bakery of Accident, MD, will cater the following menu:

Choice of Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Beef Burger
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Apple Dumplings with Hagan Pennsylvania Vanilla Ice Cream

Iced tea and lemonade will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your favorite adult libation.

Enjoy the acoustic renderings of guitarist Andy Jenkins from the comfort of your own blanket or lawn chair.

This event is limited to 30 guests and no less than 10, by reservation only, and weather permitting.

Please come early to peruse our gift shop and Sculpture Meadow.

Call Marketing and Events Director Patricia Coyle at 724-329-1901 for more information and reservations.

Kentuck Knob_Sunset Tour

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kentuck Knob Hosts Uniontown Area School District Teachers

Kentuck Knob_Utown TeachersUniontown Teachers(FRONT L to R: A. Scott Hruby, Rich Miller, Valerie Cortis, Laura Kish; BACK L to R: Ashley Snyder, Kristie Angel)

Six teachers from Uniontown Area School District participated in the Kentuck Knob Educational Outreach Program on Tuesday, June 16, 2009.

The variety of content areas and grade levels provided a wonderful cross-curriculum experience.

July and August dates for teacher training and tour sessions are still available on Tuesdays:

July 21, 28
August 4, 11, 18, 25

Additional sessions will be added as demand dictates.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sunrise Tours at Kentuck Knob

What better way to start your day than having breakfast on the patio at Kentuck Knob and watching a panoramic sunrise over the Youghiogheny River Valley, followed by an extended tour of the house as it wakes up under the sun’s touch. Photographers will delight at the opportunity to capture those magical angles of early morning light.

Our Marketing Director Patricia Coyle makes sure the Sunrise Tours are small and personal with no more than ten people, but a minimum of two. She recommends that all guests be at least twelve years of age. Price is $100 per person. The following 2009 spring and summer dates are available:

July 18 – 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM
August 15 – 5:30 AM to 7:30AM
September 19 – 6:15 AM to 8:15 AM

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hilliard City Schools Visit Kentuck Knob

For three years, Kentuck Knob has hosted student field trips from Hilliard City Schools in Ohio. This year Pam Katko sent us some great photos of the event.

PhotobucketHilliard City students and staff pose on the back terrace of Kentuck Knob.

"It was a fantastic experience and I appreciate all of your time and effort to make the learning so meaningful. These students from central Ohio had never seen such vistas and I heard comments about how it was the most beautiful sight they had ever seen. The sculpture garden is perfect for elementary students to roam. The house itself is absolutely beautiful and an incredible way for kids to learn in an authentic setting."

~Pam Katko
Gifted Intervention Specialist
Hilliard City Schools

PhotobucketHilliard City students enjoy the view of the Youghiogheny River Valley.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kentuck Knob ACT 48 Session

Kentuck Knob Teacher Session 1Kentuck Knob Teacher Session with Sandy Spagnola, Joanne Savini, and Carmen Grego

On Tuesday, June 9, 2009, Kentuck Knob held its first teacher training session for ACT 48 hours. The participants were Sandy Spagnola, a middle school art teacher from Freeport Area School District and Joanne Savini and Carmen Grego from the Laurel Highlands School District Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

Led by Educational Marketing Director Heidi Ruby Miller, the session started at 9:00 AM with coffee, danishes, and an orientation on Frank Lloyd Wright and the I.N. and Bernardine Hagan House, better known as Kentuck Knob, in the Art Room, adjacent to the car port.

During the private, in-depth house and sculpture meadow tours, teachers journaled ideas for the lesson plans they would create that afternoon.

We look forward to seeing Sandy, Joanne, and Carmen with their classes next school year at Kentuck Knob.

photo by Heidi Ruby Miller

Friday, June 5, 2009

Blooms at Kentuck Knob

bluets photo by Laura Tebbitt

Our Landscaping and Grounds Director Laura Tebbitt has been keeping a blooming list each week for Kentuck Knob. This is no easy feat as the seventy-nine acres is home to thousands of native species of flora.

In the photo is a patch of Houstonia caerulea, or the more common bluets. A few of the other blooms gracing us on the mountain within the last few weeks are:

Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata)

Stonecrop (Sedum glaucophyllum)

Blue Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana)

Pinxterbloom Azalia (Rhododendron nudiflorum)

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

Podophyllum peltatum (Rhododendron nudiflorum)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kentuck Knob's Private Tours


This intimate look at Kentuck Knob allows you to enter private spaces, view archival photos and discuss the many collections within the house. We limit these elite tours to only four guests, but no less than two. (Certain family and student exceptions may be arranged upon booking.) Private Tours are available weekdays at 8:00 AM to10:00 AM, but require a two week advance reservation. The price is $150.00 per person.

Please call 724/329-1901 for reservations and use the booking code PC.

photo by Jason Jack Miller

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kentuck Knob Offers Free ACT 48 Hours

In honor of Kentuck Knob's new Educational Outreach Program, we are providing Pennsylvania educators an opportunity to earn from 3 to 9 PDE-Approved ACT 48 hours. Options are as follows:

*guided, personalized tour of the Kentuck Knob House
*guide, personalized tour of our extensive sculpture meadow
*creation of a lesson plan for your classroom from post-tour discussions
*follow-up classroom field trip (3 hours at a later date)
*summary of how the Kentuck Knob experience related to a classroom lesson


*classroom field trip
*summary of how the Kentuck Knob experience related to a classroom lesson

(Please note that participating teachers are admitted free for field trips, but a $6 per student and per chaperon charge will apply.)

Student boxed lunches are available for $5.

Participating teachers and students receive a 10% discount on all books in our gift shop.

Lesson plan and tour sessions will be held from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the following 2009 dates:

June 2, 9, and 16
July 1, 7, 14, 21, and 28
August 4, 11, 18, and 25

Other sessions will be added as demand dictates.

If you are interested in earning these free ACT 48 hours, please contact Heidi Ruby Miller at for more information.