Frank Lloyd Wright’s self-described ‘opus,’ the Darwin D. Martin house in Buffalo, N.Y. (Dave LeBlanc For The Globe and Mail)
The 100-foot long pergola, painstakingly reproduced from original plans
Architect Sebastian Tauriello purchased the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin house complex in Buffalo, N.Y., after the family abandoned it in 1937. Mr. Tauriello was forced to sell the rear of the site to raise funds – which resulted in the demolition of key structures in 1962 for the erection of low-rise apartment buildings.
Because Larkin Soap Co. executive Darwin Martin was one of the highest paid executives in the United States in 1903, Frank Lloyd Wright was able to fully realize the Prairie Style he had been distilling for a decade when he was handed the commission. He was also able to arrange the five structures – 15,000-square-foot main house, pergola, conservatory, carriage house/stable and a smaller house for Mr. Martin’s sister and husband – into a vital composition within an equally curated landscape.
The cottage offers the opportunity to see how Wright simplified the Prairie Style to inconspicuously tuck it between two Victorians.
The “most difficult part” of the project was recreating the conservatory, says Ms. Stehlik. It has smooth concrete with a “plaster-like finish,” the trim work required century-old “sinker” cypress (i.e. logs brought up from the bottom of swamps) and the complex roof structure is made of copper-clad aluminum.
Of course, most visitors will come to see the main house, since it’s considered by Wright scholars to be the best example of the Prairie Style in existence.
Furniture reproductions have been created by Timothy Coleman and onsite millwork by Steven Oubre, using expensive, quarter-sawn, old-growth white oak.