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Original Frank Lloyd Wright art glass returns to Buffalo

Some original art glass designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is being returned to the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood. The transfer was made possible by a Canadian-American Museum Partnership.

Nearly 50-years after being purchased by the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, seven windows - or as Wright called them "light screens" - are being returned to the Martin House.

"Getting these windows back is incredibly exciting. Not just for the house but for the overall profile of the project," said Mary Roberts, executive director of the Martin House. Roberts said the glass being returned includes a series of distinct styles mostly from the main Martin House - including a Wisteria window - one of Wright's signature designs.

"Most important in the collection, in terms of the reacquisition, is a single laylight panel which is one of two units that existed on the main stair landing in the Martin House. So we're very excited to get one of the stair landing laylights back," Roberts said.

Frank Lloyd Wright, Stair Landing Laylight, East Martin House, 1904-05
Credit Martin House

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She was "very pleased" when the University agreed to the Martin House's "request" to return the pieces.

"These are items that have been in their collection, and cared for, for many years - which they acquired appropriately on the open market - after a period of abandonment when the Martin House wasn't under appropriate stewardship," Roberts said.

The windows' return, Roberts said, is not about the value of the gift. It's about putting back a significant component of the art glass Wright specifically designed for the Martin House. In fact, it has more patterns than any other house Wright designed. Roberts said she's pleased because of the Canadian-American aspect of the transfer.]

"As you know, we are a bi-national community here in Buffalo-Niagara. And we're so pleased that this is happening in the 150th Anniversary of the origins of Canada and Frank Lloyd Wright's birth. So it's a wonderful Canadian-American moment. And it's a wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright-Buffalo Martin House moment," Roberts said.

The windows will be reinstalled in their original locations in October. Roberts said she hopes the University of Victoria's decision prompts the return of other original Martin House pieces.