Doug, Kevin, and Ken in the shop with sample of
antique matt stainless. (Photos by author.)
|Trumpf fabricating machine.|
|Darwin Martin house, 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo.|
For 90 minutes our docent shared with the four in our intimate tour facts and design theory about FLW. Rather than listening to his clients about how they envisioned living in a house, he dictated his superior style to their project. (Crazy about horizontal lines, art glass with zinc not lead leading, no visible stairways or radiators. Quite the detail man.) On weekends they pack 24 people per guide so we were lucky to visit on a slow Wednesday. (No photos allowed inside except conservatory.)
|The conservatory and statue|
of Nike of Samothrace.
The house was commissioned by Darwin Martin, an executive of the Larkin Company, a soap manufacturer that branched out into mail order and became a rival to Sears Roebuck. Martin developed a ledger system for keeping track of their customer accounts and moved up the ranks in Larkin. When Martin asked his brother-in-law in Chicago if he could recommend an architect for the company’s headquarters, he suggested FLW. Martin signed him on and also commissioned his own house. When the Larkin Administration Building was completed in 1904, it accommodated a 1,800 corresponding secretaries, clerks, and executives. The red brick and steel structure was air conditioned and had built-in desk furniture. In the early 1940s, with the company in decline, the city foreclosed on the building for back taxes. The buyer of the property demolished it in 1950 despite protests from the design community around the country. Today a parking lot occupies the land.