Good Luck to Eric Jackson-Forsberg

Design and Desire learned last week that one of our favorite bloggers, Eric Jackson-Forsberg of The Weekly Wright-up will be leaving his position as curator of Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, NY. Jackson-Forsberg curated the house for the past nine years, during which time the complex has undergone a dramatic forty million dollar restoration. He departs to become the new Executive Director of the Western New York Book Arts Center.

We’ve always enjoyed Jackson-Forsberg's lively and sometimes humorous dispatches and musings about the events at the Martin House. He will be missed very much as the voice of The Weekly Wright-up and more likely missed most by the staff and visitors of the Martin House Complex.

Read Jackson-Forsberg’s farewell post on the Top Nine Moments of Nine Years at the Martin House.

Eric, congratulations and best wishes as you embark on the next phase of your career.

Eric Jackson Forsberg
Eric Jackson-Forsberg, Curator of the Darwin D. Martin House in 2003. (Photographer unknown)

Vote for Pedro!

Last month Frank Lloyd Wright's personal photographer, Pedro E. Guerrero, visited the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York. According to Mark Sommer’s article in the Buffalo News, Guerrero was impressed with the complex’s restoration: ” ‘Marvelous, absolutely spellbinding. It’s breathtaking it’s so beautiful,’ Guerrero said.”

Pedro Guererro
Pedro E. Guerrero at the Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, NY, August 30, 2011. Credit: Harry Scull, Jr., Buffalo News

Read the entire article. Thank you to The Weekly Wright-up for sharing this news.

Read more on the Darwin D. Martin House, and Mr. Wright’s relationship with Darwin D. Martin.

David Wright House
Pedro E. Guerrero, David Wright House, Phoenix, AZ (1952).


This Place Matters: Buffalo, NY

Thank you to friend, Mary C. St. Mary for sharing this terrific video about Buffalo, NY—The 2011 National Preservation Conference will be held in Buffalo, October 18-22, 2011!

In addition, StructureHub cites Buffalo as one of seven cities primed for an architectural renaissance.

Darwin D. Martin: Influential Client and Loyal Friend

Part Two: A Home for the Martin Family

In 1903, the Barton House, first of several Frank Lloyd Wright homes designed for Buffalo, was built on Summit Avenue. The Barton House was commissioned by Darwin D. Martin, who also gave Wright the commission to design the Larkin Company Administration Building. Martin’s sister, Delta and her husband, George Barton would occupy the house. (1) Then Martin turned to Wright to build a home for his family, a home that Wright would later refer to as his “opus.”

Barton House
Frank Lloyd Wright, George Barton House (1903).
Photo credit: Bill Bowen, 2010

As was discussed in part one, Martin and Wright were in complete agreement in their desire for the perfect home. In his commission for the Martin House Wright was given three things that he had never had on any previous job:

1.    A large lot
2.    An unlimited budget
3.    Complete freedom of design (2)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Darwin D. Martin House (1905).

The original budget for the house was $40,000. Wright balked at this figure, telling Martin, “You ought to spend $75,000 on it instead of $40,000 just to leave Buffalo something worth having.” And indeed he did.  The complex consisted of five structures:

1.    The Barton House
2.    The Darwin D. Martin House
3.    The Carriage House
4.    The Conservatory
5.    The Pergola (a covered walkway connecting the buildings)

In 1908, a separate house for the gardener was built around the corner from the main house on Woodward Avenue. (1)

According to Wright’s grandson, architect Eric Lloyd Wright the Martin House, “allowed Wright to really express the totality of the space. The design of tables and chairs, stained glass, mosaics around the fireplace…his opportunity to show what a total creation of space can be when it’s done in creative hands.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, Darwin D. Martin House, interior (1905).

The final cost of Martin’s house was estimated at $175,000. On November 6, 1905, just three years after Wright’s first visit to Buffalo, Martin and his family moved into their new home on Jewett Parkway. Martin lived there until his death in 1935. His widow, Isabelle, abandoned the house in 1938 after she could no longer afford the upkeep and back taxes on the house. Read more on the decline and restoration of the Darwin D. Martin House at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo Legacy.

In 1992, the Martin House Restoration Corporation (MHRC) was established to raise funds to restore the house to its 1907 state. The house is now open to the public as a house museum; the MHRC oversees tours and educational programs at the site. (3)

Next: Part Three: A Home for Isabelle


  1. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo Legacy: The Barton House Legacy
  2. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo. WNED-TV, Buffalo/TorontoProducer: Paul Lamont; Executive Producer: John Grant and David Rotterman
  3. Martin House Restoration Corporation. 

For Further Reading

Martin House Restoration Corporation curator Eric Jackson-Forsberg interviews former Barton House resident Almon Copley.

Darwin D. Martin: Influential Client and Loyal Friend

Part One: A Home for The Larkin Company

An architect cannot build without a client, for it is the client who provides him or her with the reason to build and the resources with which to undertake the project. When architect Frank Lloyd Wright first met businessman Darwin D. Martin, little did he realize that he was beginning a close relationship with the man who would not only be the most influential client of the first half of his career, but the friend who would be his most loyal supporter during his darkest hours.

Wright and Darwin D. Martin had much in common; the men were contemporaries. Martin was born in 1865, two years before Wright.  At an early age both men had experienced unhappiness and loneliness as their family life deteriorated. Martin’s mother died when he was just five years old. His father remarried and moved Martin and a brother from their home in upstate New York to the Midwest, separating them from the rest of their siblings. Wright’s family moved frequently from town to town; his dominating, headstrong mother never got on well with Wright’s weaker father. Wright’s parents divorced when he was a teenager. According to Wright biographer Meryl Secrest, “This unhappy childhood led Wright’s drive to create the perfect house thinking that it would bring about the perfect marriage.” Like Wright Martin’s unsettled youth also strengthened his belief in “The Home” as the center of one’s life.

    Darwin D. Martin

Martin’s life was much like the poor-boy-makes-good Horatio Alger story. When he was only twelve years old Martin left Nebraska to live in New York City with his older brother. The two sold soap door-to-door for the Larkin Soap Company of Buffalo, New York. Martin’s acumen with numbers brought him to the attention of company president, John Larkin who promoted young Martin to accountant and relocated him to work in Buffalo. Here Martin found the sense of belonging that he yearned for and developed a close relationship with his mentor, Elbert Hubbard, who would leave Larkin Soap in 1893 to found the Roycroft Arts and Crafts Community in East Aurora, New York. While Hubbard’s exit jolted Martin, he seized upon this opportunity to move up in the corporate hierarchy. Martin went on to help Larkin become at that time one of the nation’s leading catalogue companies, rivaling Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. (1)

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