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The mother art is architecture. Without architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization –Frank Lloyd wright

There are few people whose contributions to the world make a global impact and there are even fewer who leave behind a legacy of work that remains a celebrated benchmark long after they have passed. Frank Lloyd Wright ((1867-1959) was one of those people. His masterpieces of architecture are found across the US landscape. In the early 20th century, he constructed beautiful homes for wealthy citizens, such as businessman Darwin D. Martin in Buffalo, New York. In fact, the city of Buffalo is home to a number of Wright designed buildings, such as Martin House Complex, the Larkin building (no longer standing), and Grayliff.


Wright’s architectural masterpiece showcasing Prairie style architecture, Martin House Complex, is considered one of his greatest residential works.

On a recent visit to Buffalo, I took in a tour of Martin House Complex. Opting for the one-hour tour, our guide walked us through the grounds, revealing fascinating information about the property. Martin House Complex was designed and built in stages between 1903 and 1905. The guide drew our attention to the Victorian homes in the area and noted that they were built in the late 1800′s, highlighting how radical Wright’s design was for the time. “Wright considered Victorian fireplaces sooty fingers pointing up to the sky,” according to our guide. Martin House Complex is situated in the historic Parkside neighborhood, designed in 1876 by renowned American Landscape Architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

The streets surrounding the  Martin House are lined with Victorian homes.

The streets surrounding the Martin House Complex are lined with Victorian homes.

Front door entrances are hidden from the public eye. According to our guide, this is to afford the owners maximum privacy. Entry clearance to the house is low, but the ceilings are high thorough-out the rest of the house, creating an airy and spacious feel. As you walk through the house, you realize that Wright was far ahead of contemporaries when it came to design. From windows to furniture, hidden bookshelves to art deco design details, the attention to detail seems almost obsessive.

Entrance to the Martin House

Entrance to the Darwin  D. Martin House

Wright added glass plates to the outside and left open spaces inside the house to feed light into the basement. He found the thought of people living in basements and receiving hardly any light deplorable. DSC_0256 (800x530) Over 400 hundred pieces of glass were used to create these iconic windows. The windows are composed of stained and leaded glass and are framed in oak, made by the Linden Glass Company of Chicago (1890-1934). DSC_0258 (800x517)

The gardener's cottage patio doors

The gardener’s cottage patio doors

The Carriage House originally served as a stable with horse stalls and hay loft. It was later converted to a car garage and service area. DSC_0260 The pergola which runs from the entrance hall of the Darwin D. Martin House to the entrance of the conservatory. DSC_0252

Barton House built for Martin's Sister and family.

Barton House: The first house built in the Martin House Complex for Martin’s Sister and family.

The Gardener's Cottage later addition to the Martin Complex

The Gardener’s Cottage later addition to the Martin House Complex

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Wright’s style or not, his influence on architecture and design is undeniable.. His use of art deco styling was decades ahead of its time and remains a symbol of vintage glamour. Many architects, engineers, and designers have paid homage to Frank Lloyd Wright at some point in their careers and it is no wonder. Wright has even inspired several sets in the Lego Architecture line, targeted at adult architecture enthusiasts. Wright has created iconic structures, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, that have managed to look modern and on the cutting edge of design, even a century later. Frank Lloyd Wright has left a mark on the world, like the Pharaohs who built pyramids in ancient Egypt; his buildings are his legacy and his contribution to the history of design.

The Martin House Complex is located at: 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14214 Phone: (716) 856-3858 Pricing: 1 hour tours $17 / 2 hour tours $35 visit website for tour schedule.