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Graycliff effort gets $325,000 boost

Restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Graycliff Estate, now about half complete, got a major boost Friday with a $325,000 grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation.

The money will be used for restoration of the Foster House, one of three Wright-designed buildings on a 70-foot bluff overlooking Lake Erie on Old Lake Shore Road, Derby.

The Oishei Foundation made a $300,000 grant to the project in 2001, so the new grant brings its total contribution to $625,000.

"The many volunteers and members of Graycliff consider that a vote of confidence in the conservancy's efforts, and in the recognition of the Graycliff Estate as an important architectural landmark in Western New York," said Diane Chrisman, president of the Graycliff Conservancy, which is tackling the restoration project.

Graycliff, commissioned in 1926 by Isabelle and Darwin D. Martin, is an example of Wright's "organic" or "natural" style. Along with Wright's Darwin Martin House in North Buffalo, it is considered a key element in efforts to boost architectural tourism in Western New York.

The total cost is estimated at $3.2 million, and no firm timetable has been set for completion, said Reine Hauser, executive director of the conservancy.

Graycliff, which also features Wright-designed gardens and grounds, is a New York State Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Daily tours of Graycliff are being conducted during the week between Christmas and New Years, a holiday season first. They will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, weather permitting. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students, and reservations should be made by calling 947-9217.

More in-depth architectural tours will be held at 1:15 p.m. on Jan. 13, Feb. 10 and March 10. Admission is $18 and reservations are required.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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