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$50 million restoration of Darwin Martin House substantially complete

June 18, 2017

The timing is serendipitous for the completion of the Darwin Martin House restoration, concluding just days before its architect’s 150th birthday. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home for Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin from 1903 to 1905. It is the most significant example of Wright’s Prairie Houses in the Eastern United States. The home fell into disrepair in later decades, and three of the original five buildings on the site were demolished. In 1992, the Martin House Restoration Corporation was formed, and in 1997 restoration and reconstruction efforts began. Twenty-five years and $50 million later, the project is largely complete. 

Some of the major elements of the restoration include: roof restoration for the Martin and Barton houses (the latter was a smaller residence for Martin’s sister and brother-in-law), reconstruction of the pergola, conservatory, and carriage house, masonry work, HVAC and systems upgrades, interior restoration, reinstallation of the original furnishings, and the construction of an award-winning visitor center adjacent to the site. The completion of the project was announced at the unveiling of the building’s centerpiece, a recreation of the original wisteria-patterned glass mosaic fireplace. An additional $5 million funding gap was recently filled by the State of New York as part of this year’s Buffalo Billion II awards, which will go towards restoration of the historic landscape and preservation of the Barton House. Funding for the project has come from both public and private sources, with about half coming from the State. That investment should more than pay for itself, as it is estimated the site’s 30,000-plus annual visitors will generate about $20 million a year for the region.

Fireplace unveiling marks end of Darwin Martin House restoration,” WBFO 88.7, June 2, 2017. 

“Big Reveal: Martin House Fireplace,”, June 2, 2017. 

Top: Darwin Martin House, Photo © Bif Henrich; Bottom: Fireplace after restoration, photo courtesy