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Fallingwater rescues statue from creek, evaluates flood damage

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 10:06 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
The plunge pool at Fallingwater, showing the Mother and Child I statue, in January 2014.

Crews rescued a heavy bronze statue from the Fayette County creek that runs beneath Frank Lloyd Wright's famous "Fallingwater," after floodwaters and fallen trees dislodged the sculpture from its perch Saturday, officials said.

"Mother and Child I," by Jacques Lipchitz, had sat on a low wall separating Bear Run from a plunge pool beneath the National Historic Landmark. After heavy rains Friday, a fallen tree or log came down the overflowing creek and struck the wall, damaging it and knocking the statue into the water early Saturday morning, said Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater and vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Waggoner said crews drained the pool to create a staging area, then used a tree-trimming bucket truck to lift the statue from the water.

They were still evaluating the wall and statue, though it appears that the statue itself didn't have any major damage, she said. A chain, installed after a flood knocked it off the wall in 1956, kept the fallen statue from going too far.

"The wall needs restoration, and we lost a lot of trees around the site," Waggoner said. "We lost a lot of trees behind the guest house, so that area's open and a bit problematic because the trees behind the guest house concealed a service road."

The house was undamaged in the flooding.

Waggoner didn't know when the conservancy would be able to fix the wall and statue. High water was still an issue for the creek, which forms an integral part of Wright's design for the house.

Tours of the house, designed by Wright for the Kaufmann family of the Pittsburgh-based department stores and built between 1937 and 1939, should be back on schedule. Waggoner said she didn't know if the statue would still be a part of the tours.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, msantoni@tribweb.com or on Twitter @msantoni.

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