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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo

In-Person Program

Multi-Day Tour

Friday, September 9, 2022 - 8:00 a.m., to Monday, September 12, 2022 - 9:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1CNBUF
Detailed information for overnight tours
is mailed approximately FOUR WEEKS
prior to departure.
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Single Room Member
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Materials for this program

Interior of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; 1959 (Photo: Jay Reed)

Please Note: The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination, after the secondary pick-up, is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation on all tours; additionally, current CDC and Smithsonian COVID-19 guidelines (at the time of the tour) will be followed, including but not limited to masks on the bus and indoors.

At the turn of the 20th century, Buffalo was a prosperous and proud manufacturing and industrial city, drawing national and world attention as the site of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Its wealth and prominence attracted major architects for high-profile civic and private projects, including H. H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, and Daniel Burnham—as well as upstarts like Frank Lloyd Wright, who looked to make his name with his first major office building.

The Larkin Soap Company’s headquarters brought him that recognition, as well as the foundation for a strong and lasting friendship with his most important patron, Darwin Martin. Over the next decades, Wright would go on to produce a series of now-iconic structures throughout the United States, but he always referred to the Martin House as his opus, which along with his other Buffalo designs have become vital parts of the city’s architectural and cultural history. Bill Keene, a lecturer in architecture and urban studies, leads a 4-day tour that highlights significant works by Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries.

Day 1

View two Wright works as you travel to Buffalo. Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, a suburb of Philadelphia, was conceived as a “mountain of light” and takes the form of a shimmering glass pyramid that rises to more than 100 feet. The library of the Little House, a 1914 Minnesota lakeside residence that ranks among Wright’s great Prairie Houses, is now installed in the Allentown Art Museum.

Day 2

A bus tour highlights the rich architectural heritage of Buffalo, stopping at and touring many buildings by some of the masters of American architecture. Among them are the Guaranty Building (now the Prudential Building), a pioneering skyscraper by Louis Sullivan; the Buffalo State Hospital, the largest commission of H.H. Richardson’s career, currently being developed as a hotel and history center; the Ellicott Square Building by Daniel Burnham, the largest office building in the world when opened in 1893; and Wright’s exterior of the William Heath House.

Day 3

At Graycliff, Darwin and Isabel Martin’s summer house overlooking Lake Erie, master docents detail the history of the light-filled house, created by Wright at the request of Isabel Martin in reaction to the couple’s darker residence in town. A tour of the 1905 Martin House complex in Buffalo gives visitors an in-depth look at the beauty of the main home—now including the second floor—as well as exploring the rest of the property, including the Barton House and Gardner’s Cottage. At the Pierce Arrow Museum, view an extensive collection of historic automobiles and get an in-depth tour of the Tydol gas station designed by Wright in 1927, but not built until 2014 in a special pavilion at museum.

Day 4

Begin the day with a guided tour of the Buffalo City Hall, an art deco masterpiece noted for its stunning mosaics, sunburst skylight in the Council Chamber, and stunning view from the observation deck on the 28th floor of its tower. Lunch is at the historic Roycroft Inn, on the East Aurora campus of the Roycrofters, members of an early-20th-century American arts and craft movement devoted to printing, furniture, metal work, and other forms.  

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

General Information

  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, services of a Study Leader and Representative, admissions and fees, gratuities, and meals (3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners).
  • This tour includes a good deal of walking and standing.
  • First-night accommodations at the Courtyard Marriott Elmira Horseheads, followed by two nights at the Hyatt Recency Buffalo.
  • Tour meets and departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., N.W., with a pickup stop at I-495 exit 27 carpool lot at about 8:25 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $290 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is emailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Registrants may want to consider purchasing trip insurance.
  • For additional tour information:

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.