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The Latest in Restoration

October 31, 2017



 Restoration Update

   

Frank Lloyd Wright called the house he designed for Darwin D. Martin his opus, his masterpiece.

We at the Martin House are doing our best to bring the place back to the way it was when the Martin family lived here.


There are plenty of changes underway to restore Wright’s original vision, and some of that work will affect your experience as a tour visitor.  But fear not, there is still plenty to see and we’ve opened some spaces for our two-hour visitors that are rarely seen.

If you’ve been by the house recently, you probably noticed the boarded windows at the Barton House, the home that Martin had Wright build in 1903 for Martin’s sister, Delta, her husband George and their child.

We obtained the house in 1994 and as all old houses require updates, we are in the process of making improvements. Soon plaster and water damage will be repaired, oak trim refinished, and for the first time, air conditioning will be installed.

While this renovation is underway, the Barton House is closed.

   


Also off limits to tour guests at the moment is the second floor of the Martin House.  The expert team of craftsmen from Hulley Woodworking Company, who last year redid all the oak trim on the first floor and basement playroom, are at it again. They are halfway through the project that will restore oak and mahogany trim, add built-in bedroom furniture and reframe all the art-glass windows.

We can’t wait to see everything completed, but in the meantime to make up for what’s not open, we’ve added some new stops for the two-hour plus tours. Our restoration will not affect the hour-long tours.  

    • We’ve put the Bursar’s Office on the two-hour route. This was Darwin Martin’s home office, and the carefully restored space shows Martin’s desk, a beautiful Wright-designed skylight and art-glass windows.
    • We’ve also added the verandah (weather-permitting), which shows how Wright blended the outside and inside. It’s a continuation of the living area, with the same oak trim. 
    • And, we’ve opened up the lower level of the Martin House. The Martins used it as a kindergarten for neighborhood children and a playroom for their two children. 



If you have not seen the glass mosaic fireplace since Christopher Botti installed thousands of
gold-infused tiles in a wisteria pattern, you’re in for a treat. It is simply spectacular.

 

The Martin House is always changing, evolving and we are working with a live medium. Every time you come to the Martin House, there is something new to see, or a different angle of something you’ve seen before. 

Stay tuned for more restoration updates, including the rehabilitation of the historical landscape design next spring.

It is our mission to restore the beautiful ‘opus’ to what it was in 1907, giving proof as to why Wright kept the design for the Martin House pinned to his drafting board for so many years.


Writing by MH volunteer Michael Beebe

Historic photo: University at Buffalo Archives

Restoration photos provided by master craftsmen Steve Oubre & Rolf Hoeg

MH volunteer Heather McCarthy shares our excitement for the fireplace mosaic, installed May 2017. Photo by Janet Akcakal.

 

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