Picture it, you buy a home in the forest only to find out that there’s magic in ‘dem dere woods. That’s what happened to Tom and Heather Papinchak when they purchased a house in rural Pennsylvania about 14 years ago. A stroll out back, among the trees, led them to discover that two houses, designed by an apprentice of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, were just steps from their front door. And so Polymath Park Resort was born – a perfect architectural destination, off the beaten path.
Fortunately, Tom’s background was in construction and he made it his mission to acquire and restore the two homes designed by Peter Berndtson in the 1960s for the Balter and Blum families, Pittsburgh entrepreneurs who wanted a Wright-inspired home. The two buildings epitomized Wright’s Usonian design of bringing the outdoors in with floor to ceiling windows and a nesting quality that makes you feel like you’re a guest in a treehouse. In fact, the onsite restaurant now bears that name, Tree Tops.
The young couple turned the properties into overnight accommodations for skiers who wanted a true getaway or travelers visiting Wright’s own iconic Fallingwater house, which is a short 30 miles away. They were in the midst of rehabilitating the two houses when they heard that the Duncan house, a prefabricated home actually designed by Wright, was for sale. After a lot of back and forth with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and other interested parties, The Papinchaks were the lucky new owners. They transported the Duncan House in four tractor trailers, piece by piece, and rebuilt it at the Polymath Resort. It’s a wonderful house, typical of Wright’s gallery-style, long hallways and exterior spaces which are an extension of interior rooms.
All three properties are available for overnight accommodations for a weekend or longer stays. Rates are more affordable during the winter. However, for architectural buffs, like myself, staying at a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a priceless experience.
TOURIST TIP: If you’re just passing through, day tours are also available but must be booked in advance.