Empire State Development Announces State Investment in Historic Graycliff Will Restore Frank Lloyd Wright Property to Its Former Glory

State fulfills 90% of restoration funding; focus now shifts to visitor's center

July 10, 2017

Empire State Development today announced the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff Estate in Derby is to receive $3.7 million in Buffalo Billion Phase II funding to fully bring the property back to its condition in 1931. The $4,047,000 project will include complete interior restoration of both the Isabelle Martin House and the Foster House, landscaping improvements and rebuilding beach access. The interior restoration project will continue to build on the $6 million exterior restoration already completed by the Graycliff Conservancy since 1997.

"Frank Lloyd Wright's genius brought beauty and grandeur to Buffalo and Western New York in the early days of the 20th century, and with the completion of the Graycliff Manor project that legacy is preserved for the 21st Century and beyond," said Lieutenant Governor Hochul during today's announcement. "I am honored to have been part of today's announcement which, through Governor Cuomo's investment in Buffalo's revival, makes New York State a partner in the restoration of this irreplaceable cultural and world class tourism destination."

“After 20 years of hard work, Graycliff will now be beautifully restored,” said Robert Wooler, Graycliff’s Executive Director. “Fueled by the energy and ingenuity of volunteers and the carefully managed investments of $6 million by Governor Cuomo, Erie County, and our Foundation partners, Graycliff is poised to delight visitors from both around the globe and right here in our backyard. The Buffalo Billion II investment of $3.7 million will be serving as a catalyst for Graycliff to fully realize Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for this spectacular property.”

"Graycliff is an architectural marvel and it’s important that we ensure it remains a significant cultural destination for tourists visiting Western New York," said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. "New York State is proud to support the interior renovations that will restore these houses to their original splendor." 

Frank Lloyd Wright - Graycliff Estate

The historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff Estate in Derby.

With the State’s investment fulfilling 90% of the restoration budget and the remaining 10% already secured or pledged, Graycliff will shift its focus to the addition of a pavilion that will serve as a Visitor and Interpretive Center, featuring exhibits, a video viewing station, and other interactive amenities that bring Graycliff’s past, present and future to light.  

To support the next phase of Graycliff’s growth, the Conservancy and its Board of Directors recently adopted a new strategic plan that outlines a creative rethinking of how the Graycliff story is told. This resulted in the evolution of the Graycliff brand, including a new logo, brand story, video and website.

More than just a refresh, the new brand better conveys Graycliff’s full story. Charles Le Fevre, Graycliff’s board president noted, “Graycliff doesn’t solely represent an architectural masterpiece, it draws strength from its tranquil eight acre natural setting on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie.” The Graycliff brand also embodies the stories surrounding the project itself, including the Martin family’s relationship with Wright, Isabelle Martin’s influential role during a time when women didn’t have a strong voice in society, and Wright’s struggles, both personal and professional—all during a tumultuous and uncertain time in America’s history. 

To experience Graycliff in its fully restored glory and to reserve your place on a tour, visit http://www.experiencegraycliff.org/ or call (716) 947-9217. 

“Graycliff is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces that helps to cement our region’s reputation as an architectural tourism destination point,” said State Senator Chris Jacobs.  “I am very pleased that this investment in Buffalo Billion II funding will complete its restoration and I am looking forward to the completion of the project and the impact it will have on our community.”

“Graycliff’s continuing restoration is creating buzz around the world, and also ensuring that thousands more Frank Lloyd Wight enthusiasts will plan visits to Erie County to explore this architectural gem along with our other treasures,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz. This wise investment will fully return the property to its former glory, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his vision in bringing the Graycliff restoration to a vibrant conclusion.”

About Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959)
Frank Lloyd Wright is internationally recognized as one of the most important figures in 20th century architecture and design.  His genius is marked by his vision to create a new form of American architecture based on the open landscape of the Midwestern Prairie.  Wright redefined traditional concepts of space by physically and spiritually connecting the built environment to the natural world.  He is best known for his “Prairie style” homes, efficient office buildings, and innovative furniture and decorative designs.

About Graycliff Estate
The non-profit Graycliff Conservancy, Inc., a 501(c)(3), was founded in 1997 to acquire, preserve, and restore the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff Estate. The Conservancy has made great progress in completing restoration of the Estate, while offering public tours and educational events. A New York State Landmark, Graycliff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is located at 6472 Old Lakeshore Rd., Derby, NY, 14047.

Pamm Lent (Governor’s Office) | [email protected]  | (716) 846-8309