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Wright projects cause excitement Fontana, others deserve credit for giving boathouse new life

Buffalo should celebrate its rich architectural assets, which is why it was heartening to see native son and Hollywood insider Tom Fontana gather a constellation of stars to back the Frank Lloyd Wright Rowing Boathouse under construction on the Black Rock Channel.

Fontana, an award-winning television writer, used his influence to persuade Hollywood's glitterati to contribute $125,000, so far, to a worthy local project with national implications.

This Wright-designed boathouse has captured hearts, minds and now pockets. Even state officials dug deep, allocating $1 million for the boathouse from the $44 million once earmarked for an Adelphia Communications office tower downtown. There's also the $3 million from that same Adelphia fund to build the Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station and expand the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce Arrow Museum at Seneca Street and Michigan Avenue.

Connect the Frank Lloyd Wright dots, and Buffalo has a unique attraction and mandatory stop for any architecture lover in the boathouse, gas station, the Blue Sky Mausoleum in Forest Lawn, landmark Darwin Martin House and Graycliff estate, along with two other Wright houses and the site of the former Larkin building. Graycliff and the Darwin Martin House are receiving top-notch care and attention with the help of multimillion-dollar restorations.

Fontana deserves tremendous credit for his appreciation of Buffalo's place in architectural history. Undoubtedly, much of that influence came from his late father, Charlie, a revered Buffalo rowing coach. Fontana took the message of an architecturally significant Buffalo to a national stage. His success in that effort will be a success for all of us.

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