By the turn of the twentieth century, Darwin D. Martin was one of the highest paid businessmen in the United States. Determined to build a home that befitted his stature in the community, Martin encountered Frank Lloyd Wright while visiting his brother in Illinois. Thus began the Wright legacy in Buffalo.
The Martin House Complex gave Wright his first opportunity to design not just one house, but a series of interrelated buildings that fit one with the other. Located at 125 Jewett Parkway in the city’s Parkside neighborhood, the Darwin D. Martin House is the jewel in the crown of the complex. It is said that Wright had a virtually unlimited budget in designing the Martin house. The result is an enormous brick and wood home featuring 15,000 square feet of space designed with an open plan where almost every room looks out onto the gardens and trees on the property.
Considered by many architectural critics to be one of the finest examples of Wright’s Prairie-style period, the main house contains eight bedrooms and a spacious living room that connects to the dining room and to an outside veranda. The interior is notable for its large central fireplaces and scores of Wright-designed art glass windows, including the famed “Tree of Life” design.
In addition to the main house, the complex includes the adjacent George Barton House, a conservatory, carriage house, pergola and Gardener’s Cottage. The multi-phase restoration of the Martin House Complex has been ongoing since 1996 and includes a new interpretive center designed by Toshiko Mori. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The Martin House interior is open for tours during the restoration.