Darwin D. Martin House Complex - Table of Contents

2001 Photographs - Exterior
Darwin D. Martin House Complex

125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, NY

Visitor Information

History Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger size and further information

Darwin D. Martin

Frank Lloyd Wright

Martin Complex

Architect's drawing

South façade

Prairie house style

Bands of casement windows

South façade

Roman brick chimneys

Screened main entry

Stone string courses

Wright-designed birdhouse

An open elevated verandah

Access to the verandah

Pedestal urn

Concrete steps to verandah.



Stucco soffits

Pale, orange brown Roman brick

Roman brick and tiles

The stained glass windows walls

Two Wright-designed bird houses.

Architect's drawing

Architect's drawing

North side of the house

Conservatory interior

151 Summit - Martin's house
when he commissioned Wright


51 Summit
(2008 photo)

51 Summit
(2008 photo)

Historic photo of backyard of Martin House

 Darwin Martin
and his two children,
Darwin Reidpath (b. 1900),
and Dorothy (b. 1896)


Frank Lloyd Wright


Prairie house



See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1906


O. S. Lang

Plumbing and heating system

Foster and Glidden


Pierson, Sefton Co., Jersey City, NJ. During construction, fifty men worked ten hours, six days per week for two years. They were paid $2 per day.


Glassmaker: the company responsible for all of the art glass windows is the Linden Glass Company, Chicago, IL. (Replacement windows have been made the Oakbrook Esser Studio in Oconomowac. WI)


National Register of Historic Places

Official Martin Complex Home Page

Official Martin Complex Home Page

Darwin Denice (pronounced de NICE) Martin was born in Bouckville, New York in 1865. Following the tragic death of his mother in 1871, he endured a lonely childhood, finally going to work at the age of 13 as a "soap slinger" for the Larkin Company. It was this separation from his mother and siblings that determined his goal to build a complex of houses where his remaining family might reassemble.

Darwin was the only high-ranking executive in the Larkin Soap Company who was not related in any way to the Larkin family. He had been with the company since 1879, when Larkin trained the 13-year-old to be the company's first bookkeeper. His success came as the result of hard work and his invention of a card file system of accounting which revolutionized the business.

William Heath, John Larkin's brother-in-law brought from Chicago to head up the company law division, is the person who told Darwin Martin about Frank Lloyd Wright and encouraged Darwin to seek out Wright's work in Oak Park. Heath had a brother working construction for Wright in Oak Park.

Darwin Martin convinced his brother, William Martin,  who wanted to build a new house on the lake shore in Chicago, to go with him to Oak Park to see the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1902, William commissioned Wright to design a house for his family in Oak Park.
Martin brought Wright to Buffalo in November 1902 to look at a lot on Oakland Place that  Martin  owned. Wright  convinced Martin to purchase the property at Jewett and Summit and the Barton House was started.  

The decision to build a new Larkin Co. administration building was first made in 1902. John Larkin was interested in Louis Sullivan as the architect. Martin was instrumental in getting Wright the Larkin commission, as well.

he complex of buildings that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Darwin D. Martin (who was living at 151 Summit (PHOTO ABOVE) - the Barton House is located at 118 Summit) consisted of a main house and four outlying buildings, which were unified by Wright's rigorous and consistent use of cruciform plans, piers and cantilevers, and other prairie house principles. The five buildings:

The Martins employed a full-time gardener who had to provide fresh flowers daily from the greenhouse behind the gardener's cottage for every room in the main house, a task which he assiduously accomplished until his employer died in 1935. Martin had Wright design a house for him at 285 Woodward Ave.

Still another Larkin Company top manager, Walter V. Davidson, decided to have a home at
57 Tillinghast Place done by Wright in 1908.

Completing Wright's architectural contributions to the Buffalo landscape was the summer house,
Graycliff, that he designed for Darwin Martin at Derby on the south shore of Lake Erie in 1927.

The Martin House was distinguished from most of Wright's other Prairie style houses by its unusually large size and open plan. It is said that Wright was given a virtually unlimited budget for this commission.

Typical Prairie Style features on the Martin House:

Today, after periods of neglect and vandalism, the Martin house is partially restored, although the conservatory, pergola, and carriage house have been demolished. In 1954, the Martin house was subdivided into two apartments and an owner's residence, and so remained until its purchase in 1966 by the State University of New York at Buffalo. It has served as the residence for the university president, as well as headquarters for the Alumni Association and the repository for the university archives. Presently, in 2001, the Martin and Barton houses are open as a museum and the entire Martin complex will be restored to 1907 for about $23 million.


SpSpecial thanks to Margaret P. Stehlik, Director of Operations,
Martin House Restoration Corporation, for her cooperation and patience.

Photos and their arrangement © 2001 Chuck LaChiusa
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