The State of Wright: The Delta and George Barton House
Status: Open for tours
Location: Martin campus
History: The first house built on the Martin property (1903) was for Martin’s sister, Delta, and her husband, George Barton.
Significance: The house was the test of whether businessman Martin and artist Wright could work together. Wright passed the test with flying colors: the result was an architect/client relationship that lasted until Martin’s death in 1935.
What to look for: Stand outside and look at the other houses on the street. They all sit on lots that are approximately twenty-six feet wide; the Barton House sits on a lot that’s twice as wide. Most have front porches that clearly differentiate the first and second floors, whereas Wright chose a longer, narrow Roman brick that reaches to the second story window sills. The house is a wonderful example of Wright’s early Prairie Houses with wide overhanging eaves, gently-sloped hip roofs, and banded windows.
Comments: Darwin Martin wrote, “We don’t know if this is a little big house or a big little house.” In fact, the scale is deceptive and spaces in the home are generous.The Barton House is in excellent condition; unlike the Martin House, which was abandoned for seventeen years and vulnerable to the elements, it was almost continually occupied. The original elements include a wonderful Wright-designed dining room sideboard and beautifully-patterned Wright-designed art glass windows.
Final tip: Even from the exterior, you can see the simple cruciform plan of the home. Though this house was conventionally stick-built, it shows glimpses into Wright’s ideas for the main house, a house that would more resemble a Chicago sky
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.