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Architectural Drawings of the Darwin D. Martin House and Graycliff

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0022

Scope and Contents

Architectural and landscape plans for the Darwin D. Martin House Complex, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Buffalo, New York, including blueprints and drawings showing the original plans for the house, outer buildings, gardener's cottage, furniture and landscape architecture, as well as plans for subsequent alterations; also plans for the Martin Family Country House, Graycliff, built on the Lake Shore of Lake Erie at Derby, New York. Also included (item 35) is a letter book, 1905-1906, concerning the Martin House kept by general contractor, O.S. Lang.


  • 1904-1988
  • (bulk 1904-1930)


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The Architectural Drawings of the Darwin D. Martin House and Graycliff, 1904-1988 (bulk 1904-1930), are open for research.


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 and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Items 82-56-1 to 82-56-31 may be consulted for study at the University Archives but as the Archives does not own the originals, the Archives cannot give permission for their reproduction or use outside the Archives.


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 for 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


37 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box, 13 map case drawers)


Architectural and landscape plans for the Darwin D. Martin House and Graycliff, the summer home of the Darwin D. Martin family which were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Collection is arranged in four series, then by item number:

  1. Martin-Foster Donations
  2. Photocopies
  3. Photocopies of plans of Darwin D. Martin House
  4. Plans for the Fireplace Mosaic, Darwin D. Martin House

Physical Location

Collection located in map case drawers except the O.S. Lang Letter Book which is in Box 1 in the stacks, row 22.

Acquisition Information

Items numbered 1-35 were gifts of Darwin R. Martin and Dorothy Martin Foster to the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Items 36-45 were purchased for the University Archives as part of accession 83-033.

Photocopies of additional plans, primarily details of the Martin House, circa 1904-5, 1909, were acquired as part of accession 82-56 and numbered 82-56-1 to 82-56-31.

Plans of the Fireplace Mosaic, Darwin D. Martin House, were reconstructed by students in the School of Architecture, State University of New York at Buffalo in 1988 and located in the basement of Hayes Hall by the archivist around 2005.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Alternate Form

Items 1-35 have been microfilmed for the University Archives (mf 10).

Digital copies of items 2-5, 8,10, 19, 21-26, 28, and 82-56-3 available on Discs 62-63 in MS 22.91, Darwin D. Martin Digitization Project, 2007-2008.

Related Materials

For a list of collections related to Darwin D. Martin and Frank Lloyd Wright see the University Archives' research guide at

Processing Information

Processed by University Archives staff.

Finding Aid for the Architectural Drawings of the Darwin D. Martin House and Graycliff
Finding aid prepared by University Archives staff.
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)