Frank Lloyd Wright's Legacy
Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House and Barton House have been returned to their original, historic presentation and are now open for visitors. The Martin House complex is a 1.5-acre site in the historic Parkside neighborhood of Buffalo and a world-class destination for architecture enthusiasts. The complex exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie House ideal and ranks as one of his finest residential works. In addition, work has begun to restore the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed landscape at the Martin House estate.
In May of 2018 work began to restore the extensive Frank Lloyd Wright-designed landscape on the grounds of the Darwin D. Martin House estate in Buffalo. In addition to the gardens, the project includes site lighting, wayfinding and a courtyard. It is expected to be complete in the July 2019. See site plan and images here (historic photographs are property of University at Buffalo Archives).
The restoration effort was supported by a $5 million Buffalo Billion II investment to ensure complete restoration of Wright’s vision and allow the region to fully benefit from its economic impact as a major tourism driver. The site already attracts nearly 40,000 visitors annually, with many guests coming from outside of Western New York, including a significant number of international visitors. Economic analysts have projected that the restored site will generate nearly $20 million of annual economic impact for the region and the state.
The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff Estate on the shore of Lake Erie is nearly restored to its original splendor. The $4,047,000 project was supported by $3.7 million in Buffalo Billion II funding. The Isabelle Martin House is complete after a year-long extensive restoration project. The interior restoration of this New York State Landmark project builds on the $6 million exterior renovations previously completed by the Graycliff Conservancy. The Foster House is expected to be completely restored by spring 2019 and landscape improvements and a beach access stair tower are expected to start in spring 2019.
Graycliff was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1926-1931 for Isabelle R. Martin, wife of industrialist Darwin Martin, as a summer home for the family on the bluffs above Lake Erie. The eight and a half-acre Graycliff property, located at 6472 Old Lakeshore Road in Derby, now looks as it did when it was completed back in 1931. At that time, it was built with materials found on the site; the fireplace is composed of rocks that fell from the cliffs and the plaster for the walls was created with sand from the beach. The latest restoration effort includes new plumbing and heating systems, electrical work and a fire suppression system. Once work on the buildings' systems was complete, 8,000 square feet of walls were re-plastered, woodwork was restored and a shine was added to floors and hardware.
View of the Martin House Complex out the window of the Barton House.
Buffalo Niagara has some of the best examples of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright that draw visitors from around the world. The Darwin D. Martin House Complex and Graycliff Estate, his two most important works in the region, are nearing completion after two decades of restoration. Buffalo Billion Phase II investment will ensure the final pieces of these two masterpieces are completed, bringing them to full restoration of Wright’s vision, so that the region can benefit from their economic impact as major tourism draws.