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Carriage House Window Donated Back to Martin House

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 donation was written up in The Buffalo News.  The New York Times too:

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.

Clarkson_with_window.jpg“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.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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  • DeanerPPX

    Thanks you, Mr and Mrs Clarkson!

  • DeanerPPX

    $100K for an original Martin Glass? Dear Lord that would be a bargain… I’ve never been a fan of FLW’s architecture, but these windows are stunning and priceless pieces of artwork. (even the ‘plain’ ones)

  • derby98

    Yes, Thank you and God bless you both for your generous gift to this architectural masterpiece that Buffalo has the privilege to be the home to, hopefully this will encourage other to do the same.

  • grad94

    i’m starting to like this ‘plain’ one better than the fancier ‘tree of life’ one.
    yay clarksons!

  • Rand503

    It’s remarkable that the curators built the carriage house to such exact specifications of the original that they were able to just pop the original window right in.
    Anyone know if you can purchase exact duplications of FLW art glass and how much they cost?

  • WNY_Nick

    Or they measured the original window before they ever built the carriage house.

  • paulsobo

    This is probably the worst idea ever for the Martin House Complex. These original windows should be in a museum protected from the elements rather than on the exterior of the building where anybody could throw a rock, any falling branch, etc could damage it.
    Take the original Martin House artifacts and have them tour museums properly labelled to promote advertising and interest.

  • WNY_Nick

    Then wouldn’t “the real thing” just be a reproduction?

  • JSmith

    I’m guessing the window will protected by some sort of plexiglass storm window on the outside.

  • Rand503

    Not any less real than having the Mona Lisa behind plexiglass.