Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff in New York

As Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados, we’re always looking for his creations along our travel routes.  On a recent trip to Pittsburgh and the Finger Lakes, we added a stop 25 minutes south of Buffalo.  Graycliff in Derby did not disappoint. 

Wright designed this summer retreat for the same family as the Martin House in Buffalo.  Situated on a large bluff overlooking Lake Erie, the “cottage” incorporates stone sourced on the property.  Previously, a stair tower connected the clifftop to the beach below.

According to our tour guide, the garden and landscape plantings are as originally designed by the architect, including a vegetable and flower garden located at the entrance of the property. The tennis court may seem like someone’s awkward addition years later.  In fact, it was requested by the family as part of the original plan.

When approaching from the front entrance, you can see through the large windows lining the structure to the lake beyond. A desire to show his interpretation of the lake water running through the house resulted in the large pool of water in the front.

The interior welcomes with a mostly open floor plan.  A large hearth separates the living area from the dining area.  Stone materials continue to have a prominent role inside.  These include several that Wright selected to showcase their encased fossils.

All of FLW’s houses display quirks.  This one includes a window that seems to be built in the chimney.

An adjoining structure was originally designed for the chauffeur but was later transformed for family members’ living quarters.

We were impressed by the work and dedication of the Graycliff Conservancy.  A labor of love preserved this masterpiece.  Sadly, a look over the fence shows what can happen without vigilance.  A similar cottage was leveled and replaced with aesthetically bland condos.

Want to know more about FLW or see more of his designs?  Look here:

 @apielage on Instagram – ongoing project to photograph all remaining FLW structures.

https://www.thoughtco.com/frank-lloyd-wright-interiors-inside-architecture-177552 – terrific article about the interior themes used by FLW

https://flwright.org/ – information about Oak Park and Chicago FLW designs, including his studio.

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