Neglected after the Martin family left the area, this historic building, one of a half-dozen built by Frank Lloyd Wright in ... More
Darwin D. Martin House Complex
Neglected after the Martin family left the area, this historic building, one of a half-dozen built by Frank Lloyd Wright in and around Buffalo, has undergone intensive restoration. Located near Delaware Park , the building is a good example of Wright's Prairie Style. Other structures on the complex include the Barton House, with original interior wood and art glass, a covered walkway connecting the main house with the conservatory, and a gardener's cottage.
The docent was very knowledgable and I learned a bit about Wright's archetecture and the life of the owner of the home. I am happy to see what I did. However, unfortunately, the house is not worth the full admission price unless you just want to support this worthy cause. The house is still in much disrepair as of 2008, and the tour covered only a portion of the house and grounds. Paint was peeling in places, the fireplace wall covering was completely gone, most of the stained glass windows were missing but showed substitute coloring, and the entire kitchen showed no original (or final) characteristics, to name some of the disrepair. Kitchen cabinets, countertops and floor were all of incorrect materials. The tour didn't include the upstairs, nor the separate house, and the grounds were completely torn up. We saw no bed or bathrooms. Only the conservatory and pergola were in tip top shape. Had I seen the entire property, or had the parts I'd seen been in really good shape, it may have been worth 15/person. Although I wasn't told initially, I learned after starting the tour that there is an extended tour, that included more of the property, so I felt that others may have gotten a better value than I did. Most of the tour involved standing in one place and listening to a lecture, then moving to the next place as a group, with approx 8 stations to stand and listen, most of which were not properly restored, but did show interesting Wright ideas. One room, thankfully, included chairs, which I desperately needed as I have difficulty standing for long periods.
This house really is great, a diamond in the rough, and definitely worth restoration. I personally think the money should all go to the restoration and not into the planned visitor center until the house is completely restored. We had a 2 for 1 coupon, and I would say it may have been worth that half price, but definitely not full price based on the limited areas shown, and the condition of the house and grounds. I highly recommend it, though, for anyone into architecture, art or the like. It is not for small children, who would have difficulty standing through the lectures for an hour. I wish I had seen the upstairs and the separate house (where the visitor bathrooms are), as I saw they were available, and given to longer tours, but were off limits to anyone on my tour. (BTW, if you use the bathrooms you will see more on your way to them, but if you do not ask to use the bath, you will not know that you can see one or two rooms of the other house containing the lavatories). Overall, the experience was enjoyable, although disappointing only as mentioned above, and informative. If you find a half price coupon, a free tour time, and are close by, definitely go to this house. You will enjoy it, as long as you do not pay too much for the value or travel too far expecting more than is there. When fully restored, this house will be tremendous. You may wish to consider donating to the restoration, if you feel so moved and have received a free tour.
The enthusiastic docent led tour was inspiring. Unlike other Wright sites we didn't get a lecture about Wrights life but more about the Prairie structure and the surprisingly interesting life of the owner Darwin Martin. If you have any interest in Architecture or Wright or turn of the century Buffalo then take the extended tour where they let you also into the furnished Gardeners Cottage. It will be Wheelchair accessible by Summer 2008. not for kids.
The structure is wonderful and the restoration job is going along nicely. To go on a tour is like being in school, standing at attention, don't lean on anything, don't stay, don't interrupt etc.
I could have listened to the informative lecture if I had been allowed to sit or keep moving, instead of being keep outside in the heat under the perolga. For the price i felt that I was taken. Sorry
We enjoyed the docent and her knowledge of the man and his thoughts on design and nature. History cannot repeat itself through Frank Wright. He has to be an original in many of his designs and thoughts. He captures lights, ect. and brings it into his houses. I would recommend this to tourist and the hometown crowd. What a valuable piece of history Buffalo has in its possession!
Just when you think you have this house figured out - Wham! You come around a corner and there is one surprise after another. What an amazing house. I could spend my entire vacation exploring this place. Gotta come out for wings, though. :-)
This house is brilliant, a true work of art. The attention to detail is amazing. Anyone who's even remotely interested in Frank Lloyd Wright and his work would love the tour. The tour guides were full of information and willing to ask any and all questions we had.
I remember first getting my drivers license almost twenty five years ago and driving around western New York. I will never forget the first time I happened to turn down Jewett parkway off of Main street in Buffalo. I was so impressed by the flagship Pierce-Arrow showroom on the corner of Main and Jewett...at the time it was still an automobile dealership selling Cadillacs. It was so impressive...such detail on the facade and in the showroom.
I wasn't much of an Architecture buff at the time, although I did appreciate the detail on the Pierce-Arrow building. I was a real car nut and knowing about the history of Pierce-Arrow made seeing the car showroom a real delight. That day I actually turned down Jewett Parkway and in an instant became an Architecture buff. Cars? forget it...I would "graduate" to the appreciation and beauty of homes that same day. I will never forget my first impression of the neighborhood. Large, majestic homes so close together, yet so stately. The tudors. The victorians, the huge bungalows with the boulder-stone porches. I was so impressed.
I had no idea what I was in store for as I headed down the meandering street. Expansive, well kept lawns on both sides. A couple of large sanctuaries on either side. To my right I spotted a rather dilapidated home almost covered in greenery. The home was different, unique. This home was very contemporary and modern...low, long and lean. I instantly knew it was something special. I had to pull over to get a closer look. I will never forget walking around and noticing the special details...the golden yellow bricks...those long, flat bricks. The wide, shallow concrete planters. The windows that seemed to go on forever. I'll also never forget the ugly apartment buildings that seemed to be built almost on top of the majestic home.
I left and went home. In a moment I had become an architecture buff. I left Buffalo for fifteen years. When I went back to visit family, I always made a point to drive by "my home," as I used to call it. Research led me to the realization that it was indeed something special. Frank Lloyd Wright designed it. It was owned by a wealthy family. The home sat empty for many years.
Restoration of the Martin complex will be complete in another four years. I have never been inside, but I plan on being among those to visit once the work is complete. For some reason I don't want to see inside until I know it is perfect...restored to original splendor. For some reason I only want to see the interior as perfect as it can be. My first vision of the home was that of a perfect home. As dilapidated and in need of work as it was, the exterior was always perfect in my mind, even when the lot was crowded with apartments. I can't wait to see the inside of "my home" as it was originally planned.
Is it worth the trip? Just seeing the outside of the house is worth it! Trust me.
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