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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barton House completes $2 million restoration

An early 20th-century gem

Sitting room with large brick fireplace Photo by Biff Henrich

After nearly 20 years and $2 million, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barton House is once again ready for public appreciation. The house, built in 1903 in Buffalo, N.Y., is a shining example of Wright’s expertise in domestic architecture—but at the time, it was a gamble.

By the turn of the 20th century, Wright had hit his stride. The young architect, who was making a name for himself designing low-slung, open-plan houses often swathed in brick, broke out of his Midwestern bubble and earned his first East Coast commission.

It was a house in Buffalo for Delta and George Barton, the sister and brother-in-law of Darwin D. Martin, a wealthy businessman in town who was interested in using Wright to design a building for company he worked for. On the strength of the Barton House, Martin ended up commissioning Wright to design a multi-building estate called the Martin House Complex, which also includes the larger Martin House, a carriage house, a garden house, a conservatory, and a pergola.

Dining room with gilded wall Photo by Biff Henrich

The Barton House, the smaller of the two main structures, was in the style of his earlier “Prairie-style” homes, named for their resemblance to the broad, flat land they were often built on in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. Unlike many of its Midwestern counterparts, though, the Barton House is marked by some extravagant details that have been painstakingly updated during the pricey restoration.

The efforts brought both the interior and exterior back to life, including the glass art lighting fixtures, the subtly gilded wall finish that gives the house its unusual golden glow, and the oversized brick fireplace that’s acts as the sitting room’s centerpiece.

The house is now open to the public for tours as well as private bookings— so next time you find yourself in Buffalo, you have your plan.

Fireplace with chairs Photo by Biff Henrich
Art glass lighting fixture Photo by Biff Henrich
Exterior of brick homes
Barton House on the right next to the Martin House
Photo by Biff Henrich