The spacious reception room at the Darwin Martin House. Credit: Biff Henrich/Martin House Restoration Corp.
Preservation Magazine, Fall 2017

Gold Rush: Inside the Renovation of Wright's Darwin Martin House

The large fireplace in the reception room is made of Roman brick. Credit: Biff Henrich/Martin House Restoration Corp

For 30 years, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo, New York, was home to local soap company executive Darwin Martin and his family. For almost as long, the nonprofit Martin House Restoration Corp. has been diligently reconstructing and restoring the property’s six Prairie-style structures, built between 1903 and 1909. It’s no small task: The main house alone is 15,000 square feet and contains 8.5 miles of wood trim.

The public reception room (shown) underscores Wright’s adroit blending of complex design components. A color wash made with gold particles covers the plaster ceiling, and the horizontal mortar joints in the brickwork on the sunburst fireplace (and throughout the property) feature hand-gilded gold leaf.

The details complement rather than overpower one another, creating a low-lit luster and an understated atmosphere that is “refined and organic,” says Restoration Corp. Executive Director Mary Roberts.

Meghan White is a historic preservationist and a former assistant editor for Preservation magazine. She has a penchant for historic stables, absorbing stories of the past, and one day rehabilitating a Charleston single house.

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