July 8, 2011
By Eve M. Kahn, Published in The New York Times on July 7, 2011
Darwin D. Martin, a soap-factory executive in Buffalo, was a serial client of Frank Lloyd Wright. Between 1903 and 1928, the charismatic architect designed a half-dozen buildings for Martin’s family, including a carriage house and a mausoleum. Wright referred to his shy, bookish patron as “my best friend,” borrowed $70,000 from him over the years and never repaid the loans.
By the 1930s the Martins were largely broke, and they had to abandon their sprawling main house on a leafy side street. About half of its 394 windows, with stained-glass squares and polygons in iridescent golds and greens, were removed; they have been scattered across private collections and museums or are presumed lost.
The property, now a museum called the Martin House Complex, has been undergoing tens of millions of dollars in restoration, including replication of missing windows. A few original panes have turned up: this spring William Clarkson, a retired printing-company executive in Buffalo, and his wife, Nan, gave back a grid-pattern window from the brick carriage house.