By Jennifer Weber
Frank Lloyd Wright has been quoted as saying, “I fully intend to be the greatest architect who has yet lived, but fully intend to be the greatest architect who will ever live. Yes, I intend to be the greatest architect of all time.”
2017 marks the 150th year of the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright and all across the country people have been celebrating and honoring his work.
Did you know that Western New York has the second most Frank Lloyd Wright structures behind Chicago? Here in Western New York, we have seven Wright designs, several thanks to his relationship with an executive at Buffalo’s Larkin Company.
Back in 1904, Darwin Martin commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Administrative Building for the Larkin Company for $4 million dollars. Unfortunately, this building was later demolished in 1950; however, Wright went on to design Martin’s home in the city of Buffalo, the Darwin Martin House and their summer home in Derby, the Graycliff Estate.
Darwin Martin House
125 Jewett Parkway
Buffalo NY 14214
The most famous architectural design of Wright’s in Buffalo, the Darwin Martin House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. According to their website, “the house is considered by leading Frank Lloyd Wright scholars as one of Wright’s finest achievements of the Prairie period and, indeed, of his entire career.” The complex includes six buildings, which include the Martin House, the Barton House, a conservatory, carriage house, chauffeur quarters and stables and gardener’s cottage.
6472 Old Lake Shore Road
Derby, NY 14047
The Graycliff Estate is located on a 65-foot cliff overlooking Lake Erie in the town of Evans and was commissioned by Darwin R. Martin for his wife, Isabelle R. Martin. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff is situated on eight and a half acres of land and includes three buildings, totaling over 9,000 square feet— a heat hut, the Foster House and the Isabelle R. Martin House. “The Jewel on the Lake” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently undergoing interior restoration, but still open for tours.
Western New York also has three additional Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs that were completed posthumously— the Filling Station. Fontana Boathouse and the Blue Sky Mausoleum.
Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station
Pierce Arrow Transportation Museum
263 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203
The Filling Station is an installation located at the Pierce Arrow Transportation Museum was completed posthumously in 2014. Wright originally designed the filling station in 1927 for the Tide Water oil company in Buffalo, but the structure wasn’t built until 2002. According to the Pierce Arrow Museum website, “It was ahead of its time, featuring a second story observation room with fireplace, restrooms, copper roof, two 45 foot poles overhead gravity-fed gas distribution system for fueling cars, and attendant’s quarters with a second fireplace. The second story observation room provided patrons a comfortable place to wait as their vehicle was serviced.”
Frank Lloyd Wright Fontana Boathouse
One Rotary Row (Foot of Porter Avenue)
Buffalo, NY 14201
The Fontana Boathouse is located at the Black Rock Canal on the Niagara River in Buffalo and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905 for a family friend. The boathouse was never built for it’s original location and it became a part of Wright’s catalog of works. John Courtin, the former executive director of the Darwin Martin House discovered the plans at a symposium and acquired the rights in 2000. In 2007, the Wright Fontana Boathouse was completed and is currently a fully operating boathouse which can be rented for events and is available for tours.
Frank Lloyd Wright Blue Sky Mausoleum
1411 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209
The Blue Sky Mausoleum is located in Forest Lawn Cemetery and was built by Wright by the request of Darwin Martin. The 24-crypt mausoleum wasn’t built until 2004 after careful research into Wright’s drawings, plans and correspondence with Martin was completed. Guests can visit the Blue Sky Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery year round.
Last but not least, there are two additional Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Western New York, the private residences of the Walter V. Davidson House located at 57 Tillinghast Place, Buffalo and the William R. Heath House located at76 Soldiers Place, Buffalo. While these homes are private and not open for tours, the mark of Frank Lloyd Wright can be seen while passing by.