Frank Lloyd Wright had a unique relationship with the Western New York area thanks to his patron and friend Darwin Martin. Martin, treasurer of the Larkin Soap Company, brought Wright to Buffalo in 1902 to discuss the commissioning of not only the Larkin Soap Company Administration building, Wright’s first commercial commission (built in 1904 and demolished in 1950), but the commissioning of multiple structures for Martin and his family.
Today Wright’s designs enhance the architectural richness of Western New York from downtown Buffalo to the shores of Lake Erie south of the city. Spend time in Western New York exploring all of these Wright gems and see why he is considered an iconic American architect.
The multi-structure estate (1903-05) that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Darwin D. Martin is a masterpiece of 20th century architecture. The Martin House is widely considered one of Wright’s finest Prairie Houses – a signature work from the early years of his celebrated career. Wright himself referred to the Martin House complex as “the opus” and kept the site plan pinned to his drawing table for close to fifty years.
Today the Martin House Restoration Corporation is bringing the Martin House complex back to its former magnificence in the most ambitious restoration of a Frank Lloyd Wright site ever undertaken. Three of the original elements — the pergola, conservatory and carriage house, which were demolished decades ago, are rebuilt in the first-ever reconstruction of Wright buildings. The historic site is operated as a house museum and will remain open for tours throughout the restoration. It is nine minutes driving time from the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fontana Boathouse to the Martin House complex. For tour schedules and reservations visit http://www.darwinmartinhouse.org
Isabelle R. Martin commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a beautiful, sun-filled summer home on 8 acres on the shore of Lake Erie. The Graycliff Estate (1926-31) is 20 minutes from downtown Buffalo, 30 minutes from the Martin House Complex and is open for tours. Combination tour tickets to visit both the Martin House and Graycliff are available. For a tour schedule and to make reservations at Graycliff visit: http://graycliffestate.org
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Blue-Sky Mausoleum at the request of Darwin D. Martin, secretary of the Larkin Soap Company. It was the last of four projects Martin personally commissioned from Wright; the others were his residential complex, Larkin headquarters, and a summer home. The mausoleum was not built during Martin’s lifetime. In 2004, Forest Lawn Cemetery faithfully rendered Blue-Sky in conjunction with an architect trained by Wright himself, based on extensive research into Wright’s drawings, notes, and correspondence. Today, its broad stairs and soaring monolith rise toward the heavens, as Wright had envisioned and Martin had desired. It takes only five minutes to drive to Forest Lawn cemetery to visit Blue-Sky Mausoleum. For more information: http://blueskymausoleum.com
In 1927, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the station for the corner of Michigan and Cherry. It was never built. The Buffalo Transportation Museum purchased the rights to build the station from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in the year 2002. Plans have been developed to build the Filling Station within the walls of the new 60,000 square foot Museum expansion. The station structure, with its 45’ high copper totems and expansive copper roof will now be protected from exposure to wind, rain and snow and will be able to be seen in comfort year round. Mezzanine levels will surround the indoor station so visitors will be able to look down and over the copper roof and red and white concrete paving. The filling station will be only a short distance from where Wright envisioned it, and visitors will be able to see yet another of Wright’s designs come to life here in Buffalo. For more information about The Buffalo Transportation Museum and Wright’s Filling Station, visit http://www.pierce-arrow.com
While planning your visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright structures in our area visit the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau to find more things to see, restaurants to try and places to stay.