Here we are in Buffalo, N.Y., amid a world-class collection of historic architecture that hardly anybody elsewhere even knows about. That sad state of affairs will be getting some correcting this September when the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy will hold its ninth annual conference here. Buffalo's treasure trove has been a secret long enough. Here's a chance to spread the news to people who are knowledgeable and influential.
The Wright conservancy, founded in 1989, attracts membership among those who own or administer Wright buildings as well as Wright scholars, preservationists, architecture buffs and people with a hobby interest in Wright's buildings.
About 300 are expected here Sept. 17 through 21 for a full state of tours, speeches and discussions. No ordinary tourists, these people. They are in a position to speak with authority about Buffalo's buildings nationally. That's all to our good.
One of the tours, for sure, will take the visitors to Wright's splendid 1907 Darwin Martin House complex on Jewett Parkway. Restoration work is in progress there on both the Martin house itself and its Wright-designed neighbor on the same compound, the Barton House. The whole complex shapes up as a prime destination for tourists in years to come. The September visitors can see the progress, get the flavor of what will happen and report the good news to their communities and their networks of other architecture experts.
Millions of dollars for the restoration of the Martin and Barton houses are being pulled together in steps from sources both public and private. Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., has been an invaluable supporter for years. Quite properly, he's the main speaker at the conference awards dinner.
In the latest news, New York's other senator, Republican Alfonse M. D'Amato, joined Moynihan in shepherding an additional $500,000 for restoration through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The funding will need some strong support from Western New Yorkers in the House of Representatives to become reality, however. It should get the push it needs.
Jack Quinan, professor of art history at the University at Buffalo and curator of the Martin House, is on the list of speakers for the September conference. He has comprehensive knowledge about Martin's role as a client of Wright and the fascinating ways their relationship played out to make the house a collaboration between the two. Quinan deserves this community's thanks for bringing the conference here and getting its program together.
The tours will go beyond the Martin property to take the visitors to places many of us take for granted, but shouldn't. A boat trip will provide viewing of grain elevators along the Buffalo River. A walking tour of downtown will lead to buildings including that outstanding example of Art Deco design, City Hall; the oldest commercial building in the city, the Title Guarantee Co.; and the great Louis Sullivan masterwork, the Guaranty Building.
There will be a bus tour to other Wright houses in the Buffalo area, a stop for tea at Kleinhans Music Hall and a trip to East Aurora's Roycroft campus, center of the arts and crafts movement in the early years of this century.
The conference program says Buffalo is home to some of Wright's "most important buildings." Yes, and powerful examples of the work of many other architects are found here, too. May the word get out.