The State of Wright: the Walter Davidson House
Status: Private residence closed to the public
Location: 57 Tillinghast Place
History: This home was designed for another Larkin Company executive, Walter Davidson, shortly after his marriage to Christiana Isham. He commissioned it after the other Buffalo residences (Barton, Heath, and Martin) had been built and occupied.
What to look for: The house actually sits on a double lot and is a cross-axial plan with a composition that spreads horizontally. Its profile and layout is similar to other Prairie homes Wright designed in other cities (perhaps a more intimate version of Wright’s famous Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Ilinois, 1902).
Instead of facing the street as the other Buffalo designs do, the Davidson House has no primary façade and is oriented to the side yard. Also, note that instead of the brick with which Wright dressed his other residences, the Davidson House is made of wood and stucco. The house has diamond-shaped, clear leaded glass windows with none of the patterning or autumnal colors of the windows in Wright’s typical Prairie homes. The materials are probably reflective of a modest budget.
Comments: Architectural historian Henry Russell Hitchcock writes in the 1940s, “the finest Wright home in Buffalo is of wood rather than masonry and has therefore a lightness and articulation which the others lack. The cross-shaped plan is here more boldly developed so that the chief rooms have three exposures, while the two-story living room has the height so frequently lacking in Wright’s interiors.”
The feature that is most appealing and for which the house is best known is the cathedral-like shape of the living room. It uses a large bay of tall casement windows with diamond-shaped, clear glass windows to create a memorable space.
Last week, and again this week, 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.