Modernism amid the Allegheny Mountains
The Lynn Hall property, along with the nearby cottage, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a prime example of Organic Prairie architecture.
It was designed and built by Walter J. Hall –– a self-taught practitioner of the style –– who is best known as the builder of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. As the story goes, Wright visited Lynn Hall at the bequest of Edgar Kaufman after the original contractor walked off the project due to the complexity of Wright’s design. Upon discovering Hall’s building, Kaufman wrote in his letter to Wright, “We have our builder.” Hall accepted the challenge for the whopping salary of $50 a week.
The realization of Wright’s vision owes credit to Hall’s ingenuity and knowledge of working with poured concrete flat roofs and porticoes, structural steel work and his trademark stone work, much of which was quarried behind Lynn Hall. Notorious for leaving out dimensions and critical details, Wright relied on Hall to make much of his vision work.
Hall is also credited with creative details such as saving the large boulder next to the fireplace in Falling Water although Wright had requested it be removed. Hall is said to have proclaimed, “Why take it out? It’s natural.” In the end, their working relationship was fraught with creative differences, and Hall declined Wright’s invitation to oversee the building of Taliesin. Instead, he returned to continue working on Lynn Hall.
Lynn Hall was conceived as a Country Inn, and although the hotel aspect of the project was never realized, it was a popular restaurant and dance hall known throughout the region. Eventually it became the architectural offices for Hall’s son, Ray Viner Hall. Ray would carry on his father’s passion by developing his own style of organic architecture.
At the same time Lynn Hall was under construction, Corning was building a factory where it would develop its famed glass blocks. Hall incorporated much of Corning’s product into Lynn Hall. In fact, Lynn Hall arguably has one of the largest, intact early examples of Corning glass block.
The first phase was completed in 1935 just as vast numbers of Americans began taking road trips; Hall hoped to capitalize on this by adding a gas station out front. Tourists traveling Roosevelt Highway 6 (the first transcontinental highway) could stop in to fill up and grab a bite to eat.
Carved out of the mountainside, Lynn Hall overlooks the Allegheny River valley, which considering the tools available in the ’30s presented quite a challenge. Ever the re-purposer, Hall used stone quarried from the property, leftover lumber from barns and recycled railroad tracks to construct the ultimate prairie-style structure.
Surrounded by natural beauty
Lynn Hall, as much a part of the landscape as the deep gorges, rolling hills and forest that surrounds it, is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the northeast.
Heavily stripped for its valuable hardwoods in the late 1800s, (check out the early photos of Lynn Hall), the area was once referred to as the Pennsylvania desert. Today, most of the region is protected and is considered a premier destination for viewing fall foliage.
Lynn Hall is situated off historic Route 6, west of Port Allegany, PA. The building is positioned so that it offers a panoramic view of the Allegany River valley below.