Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed a unique residential complex for wealthy Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin and his family between 1903-1905. The most substantial and highly developed of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie houses in the Eastern United States, The Darwin D. Martin House received National Historic Landmark status in 1986. The house is considered by leading Frank Lloyd Wright scholars as one of Wright’s finest achievements of the Prairie period and, indeed, of his entire career.
The complex consists of six interconnected buildings designed as a unified composition, including; the main Martin House and a pergola that connects it to a conservatory and carriage house with chauffeur’s quarters and stables, the Barton House, a smaller residence for Martin’s sister and brother-in-law, and a gardener’s cottage added in 1909. The landscape design for the grounds of the complex is highly integrated with the overall composition of buildings.
The Martin House is a prime example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie House ideal, with strong horizontal lines and planes, deeply overhanging eaves, a central hearth, prominent foundation, and a sheltering, cantilevered roof. The complex contains 394 examples of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art glass, including the famed “Tree of Life” window.
Over the decades, the Martin House Complex suffered considerable damage and three of the original five buildings were demolished. In 1992, the Martin House Restoration Corporation (MHRC) was formed to raise funds for and oversee a complete restoration of the complex. Extensive reconstruction and restoration efforts began in 1997 and are ongoing today. In 2009, the MHRC opened the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, a visitor welcome and interpretive center designed by Toshiko Mori Architect.