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buffalo’s frank lloyd wright

August 28

When asked what first comes to mind when they think of Buffalo, New York, most Torontonians and southern Ontarians would likely mention the cross-border shopping deals, snow, and Buffalo wings.  I think I would be hard-pressed to find many who would mention impressive architecture and grand old homes, and fewer still would declare ‘Frank Lloyd Wright’. Perhaps surprisingly, Buffalo, just a short drive from Toronto, is home to a number of Frank Lloyd Wright private and public architectural gems.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was a visionary American architect and a leader of the Prairie School movement. Prairie School is one of the few indigenous American styles, and is exemplified in FLW’s Buffalo homes and public buildings.

A little while back I visited the Darwin D. Martin Complex (under restoration at the time, nearer completion now), designed for industrialist Darwin Martin and his family, consisting of five interconnected buildings. The main house is considered by leading Wright scholars as one of Wright’s finest achievements of the Prairie period and of his entire career.

Also under restoration at the time of my visit is Wright’s Graycliff, located on the south shore of Lake Erie, just outside of Buffalo. On a scenic 8.4 acre estate, the two-story, 6,500 square-foot house served as the Martins’ summer home from 1928 to the mid-1940s.

The William R. Heath House and the Walter D. Davidson House are both still private residences but are worth a peak from the outside.

In 2004, in conjunction with an architect trained by Wright himself and based on extensive research into Wright’s drawings, notes, and correspondence, Forest Lawn Cemetery faithfully rendered the FLW designed Blue Sky Mausoleum. A group of FLW aficionados built and opened the Fontana Boathouse, adjacent to the Peace Bridge that crosses the international border at the Niagara River — more than 100 years after it was conceived in 1905. Plans are underway to also build a FLW filling station (designed in 1927 but never built) in the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. shadi permalink
    August 28 11:22 pm

    as an architect, since my school years, I have always been a big fan of his work. I haven’t yet had the chance to see his work in Buffalo but the day we visited Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania, I felt being in a dream…being there was a dream come true! It was a wonderful day in October, l’été indien at Fallingwater! Thanks for reminding us that buffalo is not all about shopping.

    • August 29 8:27 pm

      Oh Falling Water. It is an experience not to be missed for fans of FLW, or for anyone who appreciates good design. I too felt it so surreal to actually move through the interior spaces he designed, with all the finishes, fitments and furniture in tact. Alas, Buffalo is much closer to Toronto, and the FLW structures quite spectacular as well.


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