An original window from the Darwin Martin carriage house is returning home thanks to a generous donation by a Buffalo couple. Will and Nan Clarkson have given the Frank Lloyd Wright designed window to the Darwin Martin Restoration Corporation to display in the rebuilt carriage house. The couple had owned the window since the mid-1980’s and its value on the resale market was estimated at over $100,000.
The carriage house was razed in 1962, and in 1985 the Clarksons bought the window from an architect who had salvaged it. The couple hung their purchase over a doorway, with thermal glass protecting it from falling trees and Buffalo weather.
“It was sort of hiding in plain sight” at the Clarksons’ house while preservationists kept dropping hints encouraging its restitution, said Eric Jackson-Forsberg, curator of the Martin House.
“Now that we are both octogenarians,” Mr. Clarkson (with window right) said in a recent phone interview, “rather than waiting for our demise, we decided we should give it to them now, because of the extraordinary progress that has been made at the house.”
Julie L. Sloan, a stained-glass restoration consultant and historian in North Adams, Mass., has appraised the piece at more than $100,000. She knows of virtually no precedent for a Wright window given back to its original home. “Most of them are too valuable, so people want to hold on to them,” she said.
In December Christie’s auctioned two Martin windows in New York, from the estate of the computer tycoon Max Palevsky; one three feet tall sold for $62,500 and one five feet tall went for $104,500.
The carriage house was recreated four years ago, and the Clarkson gift has been installed on the second floor, overlooking the street. “We put it where it’s going to be most prominent,” Mr. Jackson-Forsberg said.
In October vintage and reproduction furniture will go on view in the long-empty main house, and lost skylight panes are being reproduced. The upgrades may bring more old windows out of the woodwork. Mr. Clarkson knows a collector who owns one. “You can be sure,” he said, “next time I see him, I will brag about our donation.”
According to Martin House Curator Eric Jackson-Forsberg, of the 394 glass pieces originally in the Martin complex, the Restoration Corporation has about half of the originals. That includes windows, glass doors and skylights. The balance will be reproduced. Or returned.
Images from Martin House Restoration Corporation.