The State of Wright: The Conservatory
Location: Martin campus
Status: Open for tours
History: The conservatory was part of the original complex and is one of the elements that had been demolished. It serves as the connecting element between the pergola and the carriage house.
Significance: The design evolved from Mrs. Martin’s request for a “plant house,” but Wright gave her much more than she requested, creating a sanctuary that celebrated her love of plants and Wright’s own reverence for nature. The Wright-designed poured concrete planters were always filled with greenery.
What to look for: You can’t miss the statue of Nike. Although Wright used Winged Victory in several of his other commissions, it was never used on this scale (nine-feet-three-inches on a three-foot plinth). When you’re outside, notice that the conservatory is topped with four Wright-designed limestone Purple Martin birdhouses.
Comments: This composition’s footprint shape is a distinct cruciform. Its vertical volumes are crafted so much like a cathedral that it brings to mind a small European chapel, Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
Final tip: Although the building looks “finished,” the conservatory art glass windows that Wright designed are yet to be replicated and installed. Be sure to check out the doors that incorporate large expanses of clear glass and a sparing use of jewel-like color. The clear sections allow plants to receive plenty of light.