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Graycliff Conservancy, Inc. collection

 Collection — Box: 1-2, MC 1.15
Identifier: MS-0068

Scope and Contents

The collection includes the official records of the Conservancy; draft texts for a publication on Graycliff; copy of Conservancy webpages; a draft and a final historic structure report by Bero Associates Architects, [including architectural plans], and Graycliff-related historical artifacts and documents collected by the Conservancy including a photocopy of the Graycliff Construction album. Of particular note are the color photographs in the historic structure report which show the condition of the property before restoration.


  • 1997-2000


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Graycliff Conservancy, Inc. Collection, 1997-2000 is restricted. Permission to access, copy or borrow any part of the collection must be given in writing by the Graycliff Conservancy and provided to University Archives.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright, the Graycliff Conservancy, and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied only with the Conservancy's permission.

Organizational History

Formed in 1997, the Graycliff Conservancy, Inc. is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to providing a cultural education center, benefiting the Western New York community. Through the preservation and public access of the Isabelle R. Martin House in Derby, New York (purchased by the Conservancy in 1999), the Conservancy provides an opportunity for the public to enjoy this unique structure and setting. The Graycliff Conservancy seeks to restore and maintain Graycliff as a self-sustaining concern while maintaining the structural and ideological integrity of the site in keeping with Frank Lloyd Wright's original design of a summer house for the Darwin D. Martin family.

Chronology of the Martin Family

Darwin D. Martin born - Boucville, Madison Co., New York
Frank Lloyd Wright born - Richland Center, Wisconsin
Isabelle Reidpath, the future Mrs. Martin, born - Buffalo, New York
Brothers Darwin D. Martin and Louis Frank Martin selling soap for Larkin Company in New York City
Darwin D. Martin, aged thirteen, begins work at Larkin Company in Buffalo
Darwin D. Martin invents cardex
Frank Lloyd Wright begins studies at the University of Wisconsin
Darwin D. Martin begins building house on Summit Avenue in Buffalo
Darwin D. Martin marries Isabelle Reidpath
Frank Lloyd Wright builds Home and Studio in Oak Park
Frank Lloyd Wright joins Alder and Sullivan
Darwin D. Martin replaces Elbert Hubbard as Secretary of Larkin Soap Company
Frank Lloyd Wright starts his own practice
October 29 -- Darwin D. Martin meets Frank Lloyd Wright
Darwin D. Martin purchases site for Martin House Complex, Jewett Parkway
October 11 - Construction begins on Barton House
July 20 - Construction begins on Martin House
October - Barton House occupied
Martin House Complex completed
Frank Lloyd Wright designs Bar Beach Cottage (Bay Beach, Ontario, Canada) for Darwin D. Martin (unexecuted)
Darwin D. Martin commissions Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for James and Dorothy Martin Foster, daughter of Darwin D. Martin (unexecuted)
Martin retires from the Larkin Company
Construction begins on Graycliff
June 20 - Graycliff occupied
Frank Lloyd Wright designs the Blue Sky Mausoleum for Darwin D. Martin's ploy in Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery (unexecuted)
Darwin D. Martin dies in Buffalo
Fallingwater (Bear Run, Pennsylvania), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmanns
Isabelle R. Martin dies in Buffalo
Frank Lloyd Wright dies

Chronology: Graycliff, 1926-1997

April 5 - Darwin D. Martin writes to Frank Lloyd Wright requesting 1910 Bay Beach Cottage design; Darwin D. Martin is considering building on shores of Lake Erie
April 18 - Darwin D. Martin looks at site in Derby, New York
April 19 - Darwin D. Martin purchases 250-foot front on Lake Erie, with 60-foot cliff
April 21 - Darwin D. Martin informs Frank Lloyd Wright that he's not interested in 1910 cottage design, but a two-story stone house designed by Frank E. Newman for E.W. Russell of Greenwich, Connecticut
May 3 - Frank Lloyd Wright sends Darwin D. Martin preliminary drawings
May 5 - Darwin D. Martin informs Frank Lloyd Wright that Isabelle R. Martin is Frank Lloyd Wright's client
August 19-20 - Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo to see site
August 27 - Isabelle R. Martin sees the site for first time
September - Construction on garage begun.
September - Due to marital problems, Frank Lloyd Wright asks his son John Lloyd Wright to take over the project; the Martins did not approve the change
November - Frank Lloyd Wright resumes his service to the Martins; construction continues on the site
April 5-6 - Frank Lloyd Wright visits site
June 4 - Darwin D. Martin writes to Frank Lloyd Wright of the completion of the foundation of the main house
June 15-16 - Frank Lloyd Wright visits site
August 31-September 2 - Chimney and masonry of main house completed
September - Frank Lloyd Wright finalizes designs for landscape, tennis court, circle, and guest house; the guest house was not executed
September - Furniture designs by Frank Lloyd Wright are executed
March 10, 12 - Furniture bought for main house
June 20 - Martins "open" house
September 20 - Paul A. Harsh, a house guest at Graycliff, suggests the name "Graycliff"
April - Isabelle R. Martin asks Frank Lloyd Wright to design a screened walk to cross the esplanade behind the stone bench for servants
June 15 - Frank Lloyd Wright visits site
July - Martins request Frank Lloyd Wright to design a "concrete tent house" for the Foster family (unexecuted)
July - Martins request Frank Lloyd Wright to design a third-floor to main house (unexecuted)
July 29 - Construction on evergreen garden, stone seat begun; Frank Lloyd Wright selects and ships furnishings for the main house from Marshall Fields in Chicago; Frank Lloyd Wright suggests wicker and overstuffed chairs fo the main house
Darwin D. Martin passes away
Isabelle R. Martin continues to summer at the site, and winters with the Foster family
November - Engineering report on site compiled by G.E. Seitzmiller for insurance purposes
Isabelle R. Martin continues to summer at the site, but moves into garage apartment
Isabelle R. Martin spends her last summer at the site; she moves permanently to Buffalo to live with the Foster family
IRM passes away
Stewardship of the site falls to a holding company belonging to Darwin R. Martin, son of Darwin D. Martin
Piarist Fathers, a Hungarian order, purchases site from Darwin R. Martin
Chapel addition constructed over south terrace of main house
Garage addition and a storage building constructed
Circa 1956
School building/dormitory constructed to house Hungarian refugees
August - Frank Lloyd Wright visits the site
Piarist Father's place property for sale
Graycliff Conservancy is formed to acquire and restore the site
October - Graycliff Conservancy signs a contract to purchase the site


1 Linear Feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize volume)


Collection includes the official records of the Conservancy, an historic structure report prepared for the Conservancy, and Graycliff-related historical artifacts and documents collected by the Conservancy.


Collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Official Records
  2. Historic Structure Report
  3. Architectural Plans: Historic Structure Report
  4. Historical Artifacts and Documents

Acquisition Information

The collection was established in December 1999 through a formal agreement with the Conservancy. Records were placed on deposit on March 17, 2000 by Carol Bronnenkant, President of the Graycliff Conservancy. Subsequent deposits have been made since the original deposit.

Accruals and Additions

Occasional accruals are expected to this collection.

Alternate Form

Original Graycliff Construction album on deposit. Contact archivist for more information.

Many photographs are similar to those in MS 22.3, Graycliff Construction Photographs, circa 1926-1938.

Digital copies of many of the images are available in MS 22.91, Darwin D. Martin Digitization Project, 2007-2008 as well as online in UB digit.

Related Darwin D. Martin-Frank Lloyd Wright Collections

  1. MS 22.0, Architectural Drawings of the Martin House and Graycliff, 1904-1930
  2. MS 22.1, Frank Lloyd Wright Correspondence with Michael Meredith Hare, 1933, 1940
  3. MS 22.2, Darwin D. Martin-Frank Lloyd Wright Collection, Reference Files, 1904-2010
  4. MS 22.3, Graycliff Construction Photographs, circa 1926-1938
  5. MS 22.4, Blueprints of the W.W. Davies Residence, Louisville, Kentucky, Undated
  6. MS 22.5, Darwin D. Martin Photographs, circa 1860s-1970s
  7. MS 22.6, Darwin D. Martin Family Papers, 1878-1935
  8. MS 22.7, Darwin D. Martin Correspondence with O.S. Lang,1904-1921
  9. MS 22.8, Frank Lloyd Wright-Darwin D. Martin Papers, circa 1888-1979
  10. MS 22.9, Larkin Company Plans, 1904, 1912
  11. MS 22.91, Darwin D. Martin Digitization Project, 2007-2008
  12. MS 22.92, Darwin D. Martin Digital Images, 1860s-1970s
  13. MS 22.93, Darwin D. Martin-Frank Lloyd Wright Collection, Oral Histories,1971-1980
  14. MS 22.10, Historic American Building Survey Drawings, Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York, 1986-1987
  15. 3/1/445, Friends of the Darwin D. Martin House, Records,1966-1982

Separated Material

Architectural drawings of Graycliff were separated and added to MS 22.0, Architectural Drawings of the Martin House and Graycliff, 1904-1930.

Processing Information

Processed by University Archives staff.


Finding Aid for the Graycliff Conservancy, Inc. collection
Finding aid prepared by University Karen Spencer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)