Frank Lloyd Wrights Darwin Martin House - Buffalo NY
Frank Lloyd Wrights Darwin Martin House & Northern Roof Tiles
In September 1994 I received a call from Ted Lownie project architect and partner at Hamilton Houston & Lownie Architects in Buffalo. He invited me to his office to look at what they thought was the only surviving piece of roof tile from the original 1904 roof. As soon as I saw the tile, I thought it was pretty close to one of the colors, Brun Flamme, made by Tuilerie de Pontigny Aleonard in France.
In those times no one at the factory spoke English and all we had was my wife Sue’s school girl French. We ‘fired off’ a fax in English with our own version of French and 6 weeks later a box arrived with 4 tiles wrapped in straw. I shuffled off to Buffalo and presented them to the architect. Some months later we received the first of a series of orders - initially for the re-roof of the Martin House, closely followed by a second order for the Barton House.
Following a delay of some years, we then supplied tiles for the re-creation of the pergola, stable block and final alterations to the Martin House to return it to its original 1907 design.
One bright sunny morning in September 2008 as I was taking pictures of the completed roofs as our job was finished I realized that we had been involved in this magnificent project for 14 years. It turns out we were the only supplier who was involved in every phase of the external work. As I stood there seeing the house almost exactly as Darwin Martin and the great man himself, Frank Lloyd Wright would have seen it, I realized the great honor it had been for our little company to have had the opportunity to be part of this amazing project.
So, if you find yourself in western NY take the time to visit, they have conducted tours almost every day. Visit this American landmark and enjoy an example of the very best of American design and craftsmanship.
Interesting fact: In 1907 you could buy a very well appointed 4-bedroom house in Buffalo for around $6000 Mr. Martins house cost well in excess of $300,000.00. Now that’s an expensive residence in anyone’s time!
For more information on the project please check out the official website https://martinhouse.org/