Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Darwin Martin's mausoleum unveiled

An open-air mausoleum by Frank Lloyd Wright was unveiled in Buffalo Thursday, more than seven decades after the famed architect first designed it. Completed by Anthony Puttnam, a former Wright apprentice, the Blue Sky Mausoleum opened in the city's Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Twenty-four crypts, each with room for two caskets, are available for sale to the public at prices which are expected to rise as the mausoleum fills. A published report had one crypt selling for $300,000.

But the $1.2 million mausoleum is meant to be more than a final resting place for Wright aficionados. Tourism officials hope it will give architecture buffs even more reason to visit a city which prides itself on works by Wright, Louis Sullivan and Henry Hobson Richardson.

The mausoleum, is just one of three never-built Wright buildings going up in the city. A gas station and boathouse are still under construction, timed to complement the ongoing restoration of the architect's Darwin Martin House and Graycliff Mansion.

In 1928, Wright completed the design for the innovative burial chamber, commissioned by his longtime supporter Darwin Martin as a place to bury his entire family together. However, Martin lost his fortune following the 1929 stock market crash and the design was left on the drawing board.

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