Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post’s art and architecture critic, has a story today about the Martin House – the beauty of its design, the efforts to rescue and restore the property, and how the coronavirus has sidetracked what was hoped to be a big year for the site. Last fall marked the final phase of the restoration, which included the addition of the Floricycle and various “outdoor rooms.” Kennicott visited the house along with Graycliff in December.
The timing of the coronavirus is unfortunate. Twenty years of restoration was finished last year along with the new landscaping. This year the Martin House Restoration Corporation and its legion of volunteers was preparing to fully show off one of our shining stars. The virus has paused those plans with the house now closed to public visitation.
From The Washington Post:
“They say the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps,” says Mary Roberts, executive director of the nonprofit that conserves one of the most important and ambitious building complexes Wright designed during his more than 70-year career.
And the house, a National Historic Landmark, is closed, like just about everything else because of the novel coronavirus. That’s particularly sad, says Roberts, because this was the year the Martin house was to emerge in its full glory.
The house is one of the great masterpieces of Wright’s architecture, and its two-decade return to glory is an inspiring story – Philip Kennicott
“This was the first year when we could say, ‘Come, we are really ready for you,’ ” says Roberts. “We could welcome the world without any construction-related disruption, and we were staffed up, ready to roll; we had opened a cafe. Now, we are losing at least a quarter of our annual revenue.”
This year, they are heading into the busy season — June through September — with no idea if there will be any admission revenue.
Kennicott has hoped to return this spring, to see it in bloom, and now hopes to return before fall.
“Our hope is that we can reopen the house early this summer, and that we will continue to attract large numbers mostly from outside the region,” says Roberts.
“What do we expect, [in] the new reality?” she asks. “We are still just trying to get through it before we can figure what all the options are for the future.”