Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Fund
The Kaufmann family name has a long and storied history in Southwestern Pennsylvania, beginning with the iconic department stores that flourished before they were sold and ultimately renamed as Macy's in 2006.
The family's dedication to the creation and preservation of great art and architecture was paramount as well. Their country home "Fallingwater," built by the Kaufmann's and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is considered today to be one of the seminal works of 20th century modern architecture.
Edgar J. Kaufmann was a prominent Jewish-German-American businessman and philanthropist who owned and operated Kaufmann's Department Stores. At the height of its existence, the family owned 59 stores in five states. Formerly part of the May Department Stores, Kaufmann's was acquired by Federated in 2005 and was ultimately assumed and renamed as Macy's a year later.
Edgar and his wife, Liliane, were great patrons of the arts and urban architectural projects during their lifetimes. They financed the Civic Light Opera Company, donated $1.5 million toward the construction of the Civic Arena and commissioned two of the most significant landmarks of 20th century American modernism, "Fallingwater," designed by Wright in 1934, and the "Kaufmann House" in Palm Springs, California, designed by architect Richard Neutra and completed in 1946.
"Fallingwater" primarily came about as the result of the relationship between Wright and Edgar's only child, Edgar Kaufmann jr. The younger Kaufmann put aside a promising career as a painter to work as an apprentice to Wright. Edgar went on to become one of the country's leading scholars of architecture and design, serving as an adjunct professor of architecture and art history at Columbia University and Director of the Department of Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art. He was born in Pittsburgh, but lived most of his life in New York City.
Edgar jr. inherited "Fallingwater" in 1955 upon his father's death. He donated the house, the 1,750 surrounding acres and a $500,000 endowment to the non-profit Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which maintains the house and property as a public museum today. Edgar Jr. died on July 31, 1989.
The majority of the Kaufmann's estate was left to the Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Trust, which continues today to help improve the lives of the people of Pittsburgh.
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