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Heavy rainfall in midwest. Wondering about Fallingwater.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:05 am
by Mod mom
We've had over 5 inches of rain in Central Ohio (including 3.5" yesterday) with storms that tracked into Pennsylvania. Our once babbling brook turned into a massive river with rapids, so strong as to deposit a 3 foot + boulder from upstream into our view.(actually it's several boulders that previously were not even in view). The roar of the water sounds as if we're near a massive waterfall. We wondered if we experience this, what would Fallingwater experience. Anyone know?

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:28 am
by SDR
Heh. Now there's a plausible reason for the "washed-away" support to your floating stone wall ? But the addition of boulders is a nice recompense. And I guess there's no evidence of flooding in the house, justifying the architects' siting of the structure. ... us-oh-risk

Don't know what's going on at Bear Run -- but the news of heavy rain yesterday on the news made me wonder about another Wright site, in another state. Where ?


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:51 am
by DRN
-- but the news of heavy rain yesterday on the news made me wonder about another Wright site, in another state. Where ?
Wright's Dr. Alvin Miller house in Charles City, IA? It was inundated a few years ago.

Bear Run can flash flood easily and quickly. Fallingwater is set well above the run, but its plunge pool and suspended stair down to the run can be vulnerable...they have acted as flotsam catchers in the past. Historically, the worst flooding at Fallingwater has come from stormwater running down the hill from the guest house and making its entry at the second floor bridge, though I believe an added drainage system has reduced that threat.

I'd be most concerned about Mies' Farnsworth house. CBS News this morning reported significant flooding of the Fox River in WI, upstream of the house.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 am
by SDR
Wisconsin is considerably upriver from Plano, TX . . . isn't it ? :shock:

"Historically, the worst flooding at Fallingwater has come from stormwater running down the hill from the guest house and making its entry at the second floor bridge . . ." There's the answer to the unasked question, concerning Edgar jr's account of the August 1959 storm in his essay, "Twenty-five Years of the House on the Waterfall," in La Casa Sulla Cascata di F.Ll.W.. The author reports that water entered at the second-floor bridge entrance to the house, making it sound as if the stream had risen that far . . .


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:14 am
by DRN
Farnsworth is in Plano, IL...Edith worked in Chicago and used the house on weekends.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:54 am
by SDR
OMG. How could I have thought it was in Texas, all these years . . .


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:28 pm
by Mod mom
Not sure how much rain Plano received but here is some information about how they intend to mitigate future flooding at Farnsworth:

I recall the stream below the bridge to the front entrance of Fallingwater was not that much lower than the bridge. This explains Edgar Jr.'s description in 1959.

At Glenbrow, the original stone wall outside the kitchen had previous collapsed and with each rain the patio would fill like a swimming pool entering the house through the kitchen door. A month after we took ownership, we experienced a 2+" rainfall: ... 444413635/

The entire wall was removed, ground excavated and drains were added that lead down the ravine: ... 444413635/

Since the upper lawn was several feet about ground level of the house and there would be always be pressure against the stone wall, we cheated adding a concrete block retaining wall behind the stone wall to prevent any future problems: ... 444413635/

(the visible concrete block wall shown between the rebuilt stone walls is where my wood fired oven is going)

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:52 pm
by SDR
Cheating -- despite the margarine ad proclaiming "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature !" -- is allowed, even encouraged, especially when Architecture is at stake. Building a dam or a bridge might be called "cheating," for that matter ?

My only wish would be for that stair to be made a bit more comfortable -- and perhaps to match the lovely stone walls, as a bonus -- by having the top layer of stone on each step project a little, as a nosing. Is it too late to make that happen ?

Such a beautiful and special house. It's always a pleasure to see what's going on there . . .


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:30 pm
by Mod mom
SDR Hopefully Joe (who hardly spends time online) will never read your suggestion since I have fought to make as little change to the original as possible. The steps were only slightly modified, as I instructed the masons. Here are the original steps: ... 444413635/

As you can see, the wall was completely collapsed. The masons rebuilt the wall with some original, some new (found scattered around the property as well as at a local stone yard less than a mile away covered in vine) stone, but little was done to the steps. They totally function and are used every morning to take the dogs out. I didn't want the entire area to look "new and improved".

I'm currently fighting to keep the steps off the front door "as is". They were only recently uncovered after having a plywood ramp covering them during construction and through our move.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:54 pm
by SDR
When in doubt, with an historic work of art, keep it as original as possible.

That said, you have made other improvements to the house -- including raising the roof in one area -- all for very good reasons. The result is so gratifying. That, and my claim that steps with a nose are more comfortable (and, one could claim, safer and more attractive), is as far as I will go by justification for my no doubt unwelcome comment.


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:30 pm
by Mod mom
Certainly your comments are NOT unwelcome, SDR. It's just past the time for that aspect to be changed. There is still an entire tower to restore but we're taking a little time to enjoy our labors as well as living mortgage free before phase 2.

I believe it was you who suggested a phase pavilion and there are already sketches for one on the tennis court along the tree line. It would not only serve as a place to store art, but as a block (literally a block as the street side would be a solid concrete block wall) to the street noise from 50 mph traffic.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:23 pm
by SDR
Quite so. My apologies, Mod mom.


Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:22 pm
by RA
I was just watching the news and saw the flooding in Lake County Illinois. Specifically they showed Gurney completely flooded. The glore house is about 15 or 20 miles from Gurnee if that much. In the back of the glore house is a ravine that's about 20 to 30 ft deep. there was never any water in it except for one time during an epic flood it became half full. It would be very unlikely for the interior of the house to flood because the land flows downward towards the ravine.

Posted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:41 pm
by SDR


Posted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:45 am
by Mod mom
I believe you misread my comment, SDR. NO apologies necessary! I value your comments/suggestions as I do others on here and I share them with Joe. Architects are a stubborn lot and he doesn't always follow them, but he does evaluate the suggestions. In this case, it's too late for the stair off the kitchen patio and I believe the stair off the front door should be the same as the other.

My trump card (ew...the term has been ruined, hasn't it) in design battles involve his choice in Duravit toilets at a time when we started to be budget conscious. I got to keep the 5" by 78" window in the master suite using his purchase. ;)

The house is a complete joy to live in! The views are incredible and waking up the sound of rushing water can't be beat! We will be opening the house to Columbus Landmark members as a fundraiser for them this fall.

Any recommendations for houses to see around Ann Arbor? We have to drive up to pick up an electric car for Joe now that construction is finished. I found this list: But wonder if many are obscured by foliage this time of year.