Inspired by our visit to Fallingwater, we decided to shuffle off to Buffalo, and the vicinity, for the long weekend to explore two more Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Both homes were built for the Darwin Martin family. The Darwin Martin House Complex in Buffalo was completed in 1905 and is arguably the best example of Prairie style architecture in the Eastern U.S. Wright referred to it as his "opus" for fifty years after it was built. The other house, Graycliff, was designed for Martin's wife Isabelle and completed in 1931. Graycliff, the Martin's country house, is located about a half hour south of Buffalo in Derby, NY and overlooks Lake Erie. Through their professional collaboration, Wright and Darwin Martin developed a close personal friendship over the years and Martin was responsible for sending considerable business in the Wright direction. Wright's commission for the Larkin Administration Building, which was his first commercial project, was heavily influenced by Martin who was secretary of the Larkin Soap Company at the time. The state-of-the-art Larkin Building was designed in 1904 and utilized steel frame construction, was fully air conditioned, and featured many other innovations such as built-in desk furniture. It seems incomprehensible that the building, which still holds an important place in American Architectural History, was allowed to be demolished in 1950. Fortunately both Martin homes were saved and have undergone, and are still undergoing, significant conservation.
Darwin Martin House Complex, Buffalo, NY
Original interior photos
Graycliff, Derby, NY
Original interior photo
View of Canada and Buffalo across Lake Erie
Original tower to the lake (missing original bridge from the property to the tower)
Don't forget to visit the gift shop at Graycliff
Larkin Administration Building
If you decide to visit one or both of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the Buffalo area, the Masters of American Architecture guided tour in downtown Buffalo is ninety minutes well spent. Included in the tour are Louis Sullivan's masterwork, Guaranty Building, Richard Upjohn's St. Paul's Cathedral and Daniel Burnham's Ellicott Square Building. After the guided tour we discovered quite a few gems on our own including John J. Wade's Art Deco City Hall Building, One M&T Plaza designed by Minoru Yamasaki who also designed the World Trade Center in NYC, and Alfred Bossom's Liberty Building.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Tiffany Stained Glass Window
Ellicott Square Building
First Floor Dining Room c. 1915
St. Joseph's Cathedral
One M&T Plaza
For unique lodging when visiting Buffalo, we recommend the Roycroft Inn. The inn is located in East Aurora, NY, a very picturesque, historic small town which is a short drive from Buffalo. The Roycroft Inn was originally part of the Roycroft Campus of artisans founded by Elbert Hubbard. Hubbard started the Arts and Crafts Movement in East Aurora, NY and the inn and campus are filled with furniture, murals, decorative accessories and ephemera of the period. You don't have to leave the inn for dinner. The food and atmosphere in the dining room are both great.
Save some time to visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It's a little jewel box of a gallery with a wonderful collection of modern art. After Rothko, Klee and Picasso, take off your shoes and check out Lucas Samaras's 1966 "Mirrored Room".
"Only God Knows I'm Good"