Graycliff Chronology


October               Darwin D. Martin  born


June               Frank Lloyd Wright born


 April              Isabelle Reidpath Martin  born



 August          Darwin D. Martin, aged thirteen, begins work at J.D. Larkin &                                                          Company in Buffalo after starting with the company in the New York City                                                 area the year before



June                      Darwin  D. Martin marries Isabelle M. Reidpath.




January                Darwin D. Martin replaces Elbert Hubbard as Secretary of Larkin Soap                                     Manufacturing Company.


 June                Daughter Dorothy R. Martin born.



November           Darwin D. Martin meets Frank Lloyd Wright.  Later purchases site for                               Martin House  Complex, Jewett Parkway   [Martin’s diary records that                                     FLW stayed overnight at the Martin’s home on 11/18/02



 October               Construction begins on Barton House   



June                      Construction begins on Martin House     



November           Martin House Complex completed. Martins moved in on 11/21/05



June                      Dorothy Martin marries James Foster


September             Darwin D. Martin retires from Larkin Company


April 5 - DDM writes to FLW requesting 1910 Bay Beach (Ontario, Canada) Cottage design; DDM is considering building on shores of Lake Erie.  The next day DDM writes to cancel his request of Wright.

April 18 - DDM looks at site in Derby, New York

April 19 - DDM purchases 250-foot front on Lake Erie, with a 60- foot cliff

April 21 - DDM  sends to Frank Lloyd Wright their general requirements for a simple 2-                      story house on shores of Lake Erie, with floor plan similar to that of E. W.                              Russell of Greenwich,  Connecticut. 

May 3 –   FLW sends DDM two preliminary sketches

May 5 -   Darwin D. Martin informs Frank Lloyd Wright that Isabelle R. Martin is Frank                          Lloyd Wright’s  client and sends the changes she wants in the plan.  

August 19-20 - FLW in Buffalo to see site

September - Construction on garage begins. Due to marital problems, FLW asks his son John Lloyd Wright to take over the project; the Martins do not approve the change

November – FLW resumes his service to the Martins; construction continues on the site


April 6 – FLW visits site

June 4 - DDM writes to FLW of the completion of the foundation of the main house

June 15-16 – FLW visits site

September 29     FLW finalizes designs

Aug. 31-Sept. 2 - Chimney and masonry of main house completed

September – FLW finalizes designs for landscape, tennis court, circle, and guest house; the guest house was not executed. Furniture designs by FLW are executed


March 10, 12 - Addtional furniture bought for main house

April 11 to July 20--Design of Blue Sky Mausoleum (executed 2005)

June 20 - Martins "open" house

September 20 - Paul A. Harsh, a house guest at Graycliff, suggests the name, "Graycliff"


April - Isabelle R. Martin asks FLW to design a screened walk to cross the esplanade behind the stone bench for servants

June 15 - FLW visits site

July -Martins request FLW design a "concrete tent house" for the Foster family (unexecuted). Martins request FLW design a third floor to the main house (unexecuted)

July 29 - Construction on evergreen garden, stone seat begins. FLW selects and ships furnishings for the main house from Marshall Fields in Chicago; FLW suggests Wicker and overstuffed chairs for the main house


Grandchildren Margaret Foster (Jan) and Darwin Martin Foster (Nov) born


December 17 - DDM passes away. Isabelle R. Martin continues to summer at the site.


November - Engineering report on site compiled by G.E. Seitzmiller for insurance purposes.


Isabelle R. Martin continues to summer at the site, but moves into the garage apartment


Isabelle R. Martin spends her last summer at the site; she moves permanently to Buffalo to live with the Foster family


February 22 - IRM passes away. Stewardship of the site falls to a holding company belonging to Darwin R. Martin, son of DDM


Piarist Fathers, a Hungarian order, purchases the site from Darwin R. Martin


Chapel addition constructed over south terrace of main house. Garage addition and storage building constructed


School building/dormitory constructed to house Hungarian and, later, Cuban refugees


Fall - FLW visits Graycliff


      April- FLW dies


7 Piarist Fathers place property for sale.


March - Graycliff Conservancy formed to acquire and restore site.

December 4 - Down payment to Piarist Fathers by Conservancy


August 6 - Graycliff Designated a State Landmark

October 30 - Graycliff Awarded $10,000 Grant for Historic Structures Report by Preservation League of NY

November – Baird Foundation guarantees mortgage; Graycliff Conservancy signs contact to purchase the site.


April 5 –Deed Transferred to Conservancy

Graycliff Begins Phase 0 of Restoration

May 7 - Graycliff Conservancy Receives Preservation League Award

June - Landmark Society Honors Carol Bronnenkant, Founding President, at Award Ceremony

November - Graycliff Conservancy, Inc. and Jack Quinan each awarded Wright Spirit Awards by FLW Building Conservancy

Graycliff Begins Phase I of Restoration

December - AIA Supports Restoration of Graycliff Estate


March - Graycliff Conservancy Receives $145,000 in State Funding

May 17-Graycliff Receives Donation of Historic Photograph Collection

Graycliff Conservancy Receives Grant from Kress Foundation

July 27 - Graycliff Conservancy Receives Major Archival Donation

July 25 - Graycliff Estate Receives $500,000 Grant


Estate To Receive New York State Funding for restoration of windows and doors

Graycliff Begins Phase II of Restoration

First Niagara Bank & East Hill Foundation Fund Gift Shop and Historic Exhibits

October 31- Visitor Center Ribbon-Cutting


Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Funds Restoration

John R. Oishei Foundation Awards Restoration Funding


Graycliff Awarded Prestigious Save America’s Treasures Grant

Diane Chrisman to Replace Carol Bronnenkant as New President of Graycliff Conservancy Board

Graycliff begins Phase IIIA of Restoration


Graycliff receives Federal Appropriation for Visitor Readiness

Reine Hauser appointed first Executive Director


Wendt-Pierce Family Trust provides funding for restoration of historic gardens and grounds

East Hill Foundation underwrites restoration of Isabelle’s Balcony


John R. Oishei Foundation Provides Funding for Restoration of Foster House


Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Funds Restoration of Foster House

Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Awards Funding for Restoration of North Terrace, Isabelle R. Martin House

Graycliff Conservancy receives major funding from New York State for restoration of historic gardens and grounds

New York State Council on the Arts provides funding for Graycliff lecture series

Graycliff begins Phase IIIB of restoration


Keybank grant awarded to Graycliff Conservancy for Marketing

M&T Charitable Foundation provides support for restoration of historic gardens and grounds

Schichtel Nurseries; Balbach Family Foundation; Phyllis Pierce Trust provide funding for restoration of historic grounds and gardens

Graycliff featured in August issue of Town and Country Magazine

New York State Council on Arts; Cannon Design underwrites lecture series


Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo awards support for restoration of historic grounds and gardens

NYS Support to Graycliff Conservancy for marketing with support of Assemblyman Jack Quinn III

Graycliff Conservancy historic grounds and gardens receives major support from Saperston Family Foundation

Patrick J. Mahoney, AIA, assumes Presidency of Graycliff Conservancy


Graycliff Conservancy selected to participate in Harvard-Flickinger Governance Project

Graycliff Conservancy selected to participate in the Fund for the Arts pilot program

Original Table Returns to Graycliff with help of Hooper Family Foundation 

Fire Suppression System Completed in Foster House

Historic Landscape Restoration Planning Intensifies



Cultural Landscape Report Completed

Graycliff  Conservancy Acquires Caretaker's Cottage, with support from the County of Erie



Family Sun Porch Restored (first interior room), with help of Hooper Family Foundation

Historic Landscape Restoration Moves Forward

Diane Schrenk Assumes Presidency of the Graycliff Conservancy

Underwriting support from the family of author Marjorie Quinlan.



Historic Landscape Restoration Phase I Completed
              With support from The State of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire New York State Legislature; The County of Erie; The Phyllis W. Pierce Charitable Remainder Trust; The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Saperston Asset Management; The Western New York Foundation; M&T Bank; The Balbach Family Foundation; The Simple Gifts Fund;  Schichtel Nurseries;  Claire Schen and Gregory Cherr and the Cameron Brown Fund       

 Isabelle R. Martin House--Interior Restoration Advances:
             Living Room Floor, Fire Suppression System, Dining Room Floor and Foyer

Original Table Donated, thanks to Judson Mead and Jack Quinan


Isabelle R. Martin House--Interior Restoration Completed:
             Living Room Floor, Fire Suppression System, Dining Room Floor and Foyer, with support from New York State, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and the Hooper Family Foundation

M&T Visitor Pavilion Upgrades Completed, thanks to Alpha Contract Flooring and Uniland Development

Renovations to Caretakers Cottage Undertaken

Drawings and specifications for interior restoration completed, thanks to support from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.



Historic Furnishings Report completed, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Graycliff appears on the Travel Channel, in a segment on Wright's time in Japan and its influence on Wright's design of Graycliff.