Visitors bureau nominates Fallingwater for '8th Wonder of the World' contest
By Linda Harkcom
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 8:13 p.m.
Anyone who has ever visited Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater knows what a marvel it is.
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau thinks it ranks alongside the other wonders of the world and it is hoping others do as well.
“Fallingwater is very important for the Laurel Highlands tourism industry,” said Julie Donovan, vice president of public relations for the visitors bureau. “Visitors to Fallingwater generate overnight stays, dine in the region's restaurants and visit other attractions — all which has a positive impact on the region's economy.
“One of the most popular questions our office receives is from visitors looking for lodging options as they visit to see Fallingwater.”
The visitors bureau has nominated Fallingwater for virtualtourist.com's “8th Wonder of the World” contest.
“The LHVB nominated Fallingwater for the ‘8th Wonder of the World' because we think this special place — voted the most important building of the 20th century by the American Institute of Architects — embodies what the ‘8th Wonder of the World' should be,” Donovan said.
The contest began June 3 and will remain open until Sept. 30. In October, VirtualTourist will reveal the winner in conjunction with a national television program.
“Having been around for 15 years, travelers know VirtualTourist as one of the best travel guide resources on the Web. Combined, members and visitors to our site have been to almost every country in the world. We wanted to tap into that world knowledge of our members and other site visitors to have them pick the 8th Wonder of the World,” said Kimberly Stirdivant Wason, head of public relations and marketing for VirtualTourist, part of the TripAdvisor Media Group.
Wason said the contest has 330 entries from more than 50 countries.
“We reached out to tourism boards and visitors centers, as well as museums and attractions from all over the world,” Wason said.
She said because there are no “truly official” lists for “7 Wonders of the World,” the organization wanted to keep the contest open to interpretation and allow for all types of nominations.
“The three most common lists are ancient, natural and manmade, and we have received entries in all three categories,” she said.
To encourage votes for Fallingwater, the visitors bureau started a social media campaign promoting the contest, and Donovan said it quickly generated a lot of excitement from Fallingwater enthusiasts who want the Laurel Highlands landmark to win.
“It would be incredible exposure for not only Fallingwater, but the region, if Fallingwater were to win this award,” Donovan said. “Any time a Laurel Highlands attraction/activity receives national recognition — such as National Geographic Traveler selecting the Great Allegheny Passage as one the best Fall Trips 2012, it benefits the entire region,”
Lynda S. Waggoner, director of Fallingwater and vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said the organization is always pleased to have Fallingwater recognized.
“We can never take Fallingwater's fame for granted. Most of the honors bestowed on Fallingwater have come from the architectural, historic preservation or museum communities. We would welcome this recognition especially because it would represent a broad base of support for Fallingwater,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner noted the building's ability to inspire as just one reason it is worthy of winning the “8th Wonder” title.
“Perhaps better than any single work, Fallingwater exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright's concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature. Today, as we try to live more sustainable, Fallingwater can continue to inspire,” she said. “Equally important, with visitors coming to the site from virtually every nation in the world, Fallingwater exemplifies truly original American architecture.” she said.
Those who would like to vote for Fallingwater can do so by going to virtualtourist.com.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.
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