In 1953, Bernardine and I.N. Hagan purchased eighty acres in the mountains above Uniontown in Western Pennsylvania where their families had lived for generations. After their many visits to the Kaufman’s vacation home, Fallingwater, the Hagans fell in love with Wright’s architecture. The Hagans contacted Frank Lloyd Wright and traveled to Taliesin in Wisconsin, where he interviewed them and agreed to build them a home.
Frank Lloyd Wright was 86 years old when taking on Kentuck Knob. During the design of the Hagan House, Wright was also working on the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and twelve other residential homes. Wright said he could “shake the (usonian) designs right out of his sleeve,” at that point in his career. Kentuck Knob was one of the last homes Wright ever designed.
The building of Kentuck Knob was led by Uniontown native, Herman Keys, who was in his late-seventies when construction started on the house. The Hagans moved into the home in July of 1956 on their 26th wedding anniversary, where they lived for thirty years. “There is a sense of beauty, comfort, serenity and harmony in the house and all of its surroundings,” Mrs. Hagan says in her book, Kentuck Knob: Frank Lloyd Wright’s House for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan.
The Hagans returned to Uniontown in the mid-1980s and sold the home to Lord Peter Palumbo of London, England. The Palumbos used it as a vacation home for ten years and was opened for tours in 1996.
Life, on occasion, becomes a matter of serendipity. When circumstances conspire to propel one in a certain direction, it is best to go with the flow, or so I have found, even if the precise destination is at the time unknown. My purchase of Kentuck Knob falls into such a category. I think that both I and the state of Pennsylvania owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Hagan for an inspired commission from an architect of legendary renown.