Restoring the Landscape of the Darwin Martin House & Graycliff



The Martin House complex, which ultimately included the Barton house; a long pergola connecting the Martin house to a glass-ceilinged conservatory and garage; and a gardener’s cottage, was started in 1903 and completed in 1905. The complex was the result of a close collaboration between Frank Lloyd Wright and his colleague Walter Burley Griffin, who designed the plan for the sites’ landscaping. . The gardens remained unchanged for nearly thirty-years, however, with the loss of the family fortune the home was abandoned and suffered years of neglect and modification. On June 23rd at 1:00 PM, Nellie Gardner, the Horticulturist for the Darwin Martin House & Graycliff sites near Buffalo, New York, will speak on the $1 million-dollar restoration taking place to restore the grounds of both properties. Her presentation will be following by appetizers and beverages.


About Nell Gardner:

Gardner received a degree in agronomy from Cornell University, has worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension and started an agricultural consulting business. She has been involved with the Darwin Martin House since 2006, when she began volunteering in the gardens. Ms. Gardner currently owns and runs her own business Flower Fields, and is overseeing the landscape restoration at both Wright properties.


About Darwin Martin:

Darwin D. Martin (1865-1935) was born in Bouckville, New York. In 1878, at the age of thirteen, he moved to New York with his brother Frank who was selling soap for the Larkin Soap Company. Soon afterward, Darwin moved to Buffalo to work at the Larkin Company headquarters. He learned accounting from a community course at the YMCA in 1883, and rose through the ranks of organizational hierarchy and in 1890, he replaced Elbert Hubbard as Corporate Secretary. By 1902, he was a highly paid executive also looking to build a nicer home for himself and his family. In addition one of his tasks at Larkin was to find an architect to design a new administrative building for the expanding company. His brother, William, lived in Chicago and recommended an innovative architect, to Darwin, who could build a house that would be the “envy of every rich man in Buffalo,” and “talked about all over the east.” Martin invited this architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, to come to Buffalo to discuss a number of building projects. This was the beginning of a business relationship and friendship that lasted over thirty years. Their collaboration lead to the development of the Darwin Martin House Complex (including the Martin House, Barton House, Conversavatory, Gardener’s Cottage, Pergola and Carriage House), the Larkin Administration Building and Graycliff.


Photo credits: Bayer Landscape Architecture, Upstate Gardeners Journal

Event Info

The program will be held on 6/23/2018 from 1:00-3:00 PM in the Historic Park Inn Hotel ballroom (former City National Bank). Purchase includes light refreshments.