The State of Wright: Martin House Pergola
Location: Martin campus
Status: Open for tours
History: The reconstruction of the missing pergola is probably the most dramatically visible change to the Martin House site. Demolished in the early 1960s, it has been reconstructed as a covered passageway that connects the main house to a glass-roofed conservatory As one of the most photographed and visible elements of the house, its loss had been mourned for years.
The pergola was rebuilt with painstaking accuracy, using Wright’s plans and evidence provided by sections of foundation remnants. From the Martin House interior, it recreates the dramatic view that greeted visitors from the front entry hall. The visitor sees through the axis of the pergola to the lush greenery of the conservatory, a vista spanning 180 feet. It reunites the buildings of Wright’s rectilinear tartan grid.
Significance: This was one of only three pergolas that Wright designed among more than sixty Prairie houses. (One of them was commissioned by William Martin, as an addition to his Oak Park home, after seeing brother Darwin’s.)
What to look for: Although Wright designed a suggestion of windows in cypress millwork, the openings were never intended to be glazed. Be sure to check out the simple lightbulb fixtures, an expression of the newly introduced electric illumination that was coming into residential use at the time of original construction.
Over the next two weeks we will post a series that organizes each Wright gem by location, history, what should be seen, and additional information that may pique visitor interest. There are many more resources, including guided tours for most sites, excluding the private homes. It is hoped that this guide will inspire readers to see firsthand the reasons why visitors from all over the world make the trip to Buffalo to experience Frank Lloyd Wright.