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Edgar J. Kaufmann (November 1, 1885–April 15, 1955) was a prominent German-American businessman and philanthropist who owned Kaufmann's, the best-known department store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the twentieth century. When Albert Einstein visited Pittsburgh in 1934, Mr. Kaufmann was one of the city's leading citizens who met with him.

In Pittsburgh, Mr. Kaufmann generously financed the Light Opera Company, and donated US$1.5 million for the erection of the Civic Auditorium. Improving the infrastructure of the city was one of his concerns; another was art patronage. In 1926 Kaufmann commissioned American artist Boardman Robinson to create a series of nine murals for his flagship department store in Pittsburgh on The History of Trade, completed with automobile paint.

Architect Benno Janssen designed several structures for Kaufmann including his Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania residence (1924-25) known as La Tourelle. The Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce in 1930 awarded an excellence in design with the exterior.. Additionally Janssen designed Kaufmann's Depaartment Store in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Kaufmann employed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a weekend home. The result was a true architectural landmark, Fallingwater, near Mill Run (about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh). Being the original owner of Fallingwater has generated more widespread interest in Mr. Kaufmann than any other of his endeavors and accomplishments. A special relationship developed between the famed architect and Kaufmann.[1] He also commissioned Richard Neutra to build another landmark house for him: Kaufmann Desert House, completed in 1946.

The bulk of his estate was left to his charitable fund, which concentrated its efforts towards improving the lives of the residents of Pittsburgh. His son Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. inherited Fallingwater.


  1. ^ "Merchant Prince and Master Builder" by Richard L. Cleary, 1999


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