Tucked in Garrett County’s valleys and Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, the arts and crafts scene is thriving. Outdoor enthusiasts point their cars, bikes and kayaks west for the mountain slopes, trails and rivers. The Great Allegheny Passage attracted 750,000 visitors last year. The Youghiogheny’s white waters attract adventurers even in rain and snow. Wisp and Seven Springs ski resorts are becoming year-round outdoors destinations.
All that mountain scenery inspires local artists so there’s plenty of art to enjoy. And plenty of places to visit if the weather is lousy, the joints hurt or, well, because you like to see what the human imagination can produce.
Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob
The gorgeous Laurel Highlands led two families to ask Frank Lloyd Wright to design their homes — centerpieces of an arts lover’s mountain visit.
Wright cantilevered the Kaufmanns’ weekend house, Fallingwater, over a waterfall rather than in view of it. Visitors inside can hear Bear Run rush under the house. Wright saw Fallingwater as a “broad shelter in the open” with cavelike halls leading to open living spaces with broad windows and terraces for enjoying the scenery.
Liliane Kaufmann filled all three stories with her collection of 900 art pieces, including a Diego Rivera portrait and Tiffany lamp. She asked for a special fireplace niche for her 1420 Madonna and Child.
Seven miles away, Kentuck Knob, is smaller and very different with its own unique charms to discover. (I particularly liked the kitchen — though, I don’t think it would fit in my house.)
Built in 1956 on the brow of a hill, Bernadine and I.N. Hagen’s one-story stone and glass house is most notable for its 58 angles — not one a right angle.
The Hagin family lived here year-round. The current owner, Lord Peter Palumbo of England, has filled it with vintage Wright pieces and his art collection. The sculpture garden features a “Red Army” of steel cutouts by Ray Smith and a towering chunk of the Berlin Wall.
Visiting artisans’ studios
Studios of the Spruce Forest Artisan Village are located inside historic log cabins, including a 1930s cabin, 1820 stagecoach stop, and 1776 house, moved to this site on the National Road. Studios open May through October Monday through Saturday. Combine a tour of the fascinating buildings and the art inside with lunch across the parking lot at Penn Alps Restaurant where they serve hearty country fare and more local crafts. On Saturdays May through October, come for the classical and traditional music concerts. Nearby Casselman Bridge, a 100-year-old stone arch that was part of the National Road. When it was built, it was the longest single span stone arch bridge in the United States. It’s part of a small state park, a favorite with picnickers and fishermen.
Julie Turrentine welcomes visitors to her Snowbird Creations Glass Studio in the Sky Valley. Call for an appointment to see where she fuses glass into everything from wall sculptures to earrings. If you like glass, make the appointment; you’ll be glad you did.
Anther glassmaker’s favorite is the Simon Pearce studio in Mountain Lake Park. It’s part the upscale Irish company. Visitors may stop by to see the craftsmen turn red hot silica into modern glass pieces. All 14 glass blowers are on view weekdays and at least one team works on weekends. A retail shop is in front.
Shopping for local crafts
In downtown Oakland the Garrett County Arts Council’s Gallery Shop displays works of more than 150 artists. The shop at 206 East Alder St., is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m..
Near Swallow Falls State Park, a group of local artists have opened Four Storm Artists’ Gallery with arts focusing on various elements of nature. You can find photos, jewelry, wood and glass, baskets. It’s open on weekends or by appointment
Food as art
For some food is their medium.
Firefly Farms creates goat cheeses in its shop in Accident. Visitors can see the process and have a taste.
Deep Creek Sweets, overlooking the lake, sells its own homemade chocolates, truffles and fudge.
Wine or beer more to your liking? Mountain State Brewing has a brewpub near Wisp Ski Resort — selling ales it creates at its small West Virginia brewery.
Family-run Deep Creek Cellars sells its own wines in Friendsville, a scenic drive to the northwest corner of Maryland.
Decide to stay awhile?
This day away could easily become a whole weekend away. If you decide to stay, here are some good lodging options.
- The Oak and Apple B&B, close to Swallow Falls and Deep Creek Lake, in Oakland
- Hartzell House, close to the Wright houses, 15 minutes from Grantsville, in Addison, Pa.
- Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, luxurious accommodations, spa, restaurants, golf, outdoor activities, in Farmington, Pa. Close to both Wright houses.
- Wisp Resort, beside the ski slopes at Deep Creek Lake, a with indoor pool; skiing, snowboarding, golf and a host of mountain activities
© Photos and text. Mary K. Tilghman