Perched on a cliff high above Lake Erie on the outskirts of Buffalo, NY, Graycliff is one of the most ambitious summer estates Wright ever designed, and has been aptly called “the Jewel on the Lake.” Wright had remained friends with the Martins ever since designing their Buffalo residence some twenty years earlier.
The summer estate, spread over 8.5 acres, includes three structures and gardens of the architect’s design. The main residence is most notable for its pavilion-like center of transparent glass, which enables one to see through the house to the lake beyond. The building’s graceful organic style also features cantilevered balconies, ribbon windows and expansive terraces. In 1951, following the decease of both Martins, the property was purchased by the Piarists, a Roman Catholic teaching order from Hungary, who modified the structure to serve as a boarding school. When it was put up for sale and threatened to be demolished in 1997, the local community rallied to form the Graycliff Conservancy. The residence, restored to Wright’s original design, remains a public museum.