At the turn of the 20th century, Buffalo was booming. The industrial city was one of America’s fastest growing areas. While things might have slowed down in Buffalo, the city is still moving forward, and remains one of the most architecturally significant cities in the U.S.
That’s largely thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright, whose designs sit high on a pedestal, especially in Buffalo. When Buffalo was booming at the turn of the 20th century, the city pulled in the era’s greatest architects, including Wright, to polish the city up. Luckily for all of us, Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations still exist all over Buffalo. Take a tour that’s just “Wright” and check out all the best Frank Lloyd Wright creations while in town!
Darwin Martin House Complex
The Darwin Martin House Complex in Buffalo is a typical case of, they just don’t make things like they used to. One of Wright’s most famous patrons was Buffalo resident Darwin Martin. Wright designed the Darwin Martin House Complex in North Buffalo specifically for him. The 10,000 square foot residence is considered Wright’s finest work during his Prairie period, and visitors are welcome to see it!
Included in the six-structure complex are notables such as original furnishings, a plant filled conservatory, and stained glass windows. Tucked away in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood, the Darwin Martin House isn’t just another Frank Lloyd Wright—it represents a signature work from his early years, showcasing Wright’s nature inspired look and emphasis on horizontal design.
Wright Gas Station
Only Frank Lloyd Wright could make a gas station a thing of beauty. Even after Wright’s death, his designs keep on giving in Buffalo. The architect’s newest completed work is the Wright Gas Station. Set up in the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum downtown, the Wright designed work was originally planned for a Buffalo oil company. While it was never built during Wright’s lifetime, it was constructed right down to his blueprints and specifications. Wright originally laid out the Wright Gas Station in the 1920s.
The Graycliff Estate
This one’s a little bit outside of town, on the shores of Lake Erie, but it’s definitely worth the trip! Perched atop a cliff, Wright laid out the Graycliff Estate for Isabelle Martin and her husband Darwin. The Graycliff Estate acted as the Martins’ summer home from 1927 through the 1940s. Fancy!
The estate really lives up to its title, consisting of a whopping three buildings and over 8.5 acres of rolling lawns and gardens—also designed by Wright. Architecture fans will appreciate the Graycliff Estate as one of the best examples of Wright’s knack for designing organic architecture where the natural world is pulled indoors.
Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse
While most Frank Lloyd Wright designs are being used as museum spaces, the Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse in Buffalo is still being used for its original purpose. That’s seriously unique when it comes to Wright buildings, folks.
Created from a drawing of Wright’s, the Boathouse is considered to be one of the architect’s most significant projects that never came to be—at least during his lifetime, anyway. Constructed in 2007 along the shore of Black Rock Channel, the Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse is now a tourist site and also a working boathouse for the West Side Rowing Club, one of the largest in the nation. Faithful to Wright’s design, the first floor acts as a working space while the second floor holds a club room and locker rooms.
Blue Sky Mausoleum
Set in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Blue Sky Mausoleum is yet another project of Wright’s that didn’t come to fruition until after his death. As the last of four projects commissioned by Darwin Martin, the design was scrapped when Martin lost his fortune.
But finally, in 2004, Fred Whaley Jr. picked up the project and had it completed. Since then, the Blue Sky Mausoleum design has been retired, meaning it will stay unique to Buffalo. Designed with the classic Wright ideal of blending into the landscape, the site features a flight of rising steps leading to 24 burial crypts.
Congratulations, folks. If you’ve worked your way through this tour on your trip to Buffalo, you’re basically an architecture expert. What would you add to this Buffalo tour to make it just “Wright?” Let us know in the comments!