The Western New York area has one of the largest “collections,” if you will, of Frank Lloyd Wright “art work”: his beautiful architecture. Most famous among these “pieces” are Buffalo’s Darwin Martin House and the Graycliffe Estate in Derby. The Buffalo area is also home to a few recent but archival Wright builds: the Blue Sky Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Filling Station at the Pierce-Arrow Museum and a building I recently visited, the Fontana Boathouse.
The Fontana Boathouse, located at 1 Rotary Row, is a working boathouse that is managed and used by the West Side Rowing Club. Wright originally designed the boathouse for the University of Wisconsin crew team in 1905, giving them a building that blended form and function. That design, however, was not built until a few years ago in Buffalo.
In 2000, three friends discussed placing this boathouse design on the Niagara River, near the junction point with Lake Erie. After seven years, construction of the Fontana Boathouse was completed, and the Buffalo area had yet another Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. In 2008, the boathouse was designated as a US National team development site by US Rowing.
Our docent, Olivia, was very knowledgeable about the boathouse, taking us through both the design components of the building and the background of how it went from design to reality.
In addition to being a working boathouse, the Fontana Boathouse is available for special events and tours, including the All Wright All Day tours presented by Forest Lawn and the Darwin Martin House. Find out more about the Fontana Boathouse here, and the more about the All Wright All Day tours here.
|upstairs meeting room|
|the working boathouse|
all photos: paulathompsonfreelance.com