By Nan Hogg
I was one of the lucky people who joined the group heading south on October 13 for a delightful tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and a number of other architectural gems in and near Buffalo.
This tour was beautifully planned and led by Sharyn Seibert and Brian Lauder. It was a packed three-day schedule, but all went off like clockwork. Our big highway bus was a comfortable home and Brian kept us busy with commentary and a quiz about FLW. (There was much discussion and some cheating at the back of the bus, but we still didn’t win.)
As well as Fallingwater, on the itinerary were two more Frank Lloyd Wright buildings: Greycliff in Derby NY and the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. I had been to both of those before, but was happy to return. I was able to see how the renovation work had progressed since my last visit, and also to have the benefit of Brian’s knowledge. In all our visits, our leaders had booked the most extensive tours, which meant we got extra tidbits from the most knowledgeable guides.
The Roycroft ‘campus’ in East Aurora was a new experience for me. Not a campus in the usual sense, it was an artistic community based on the philosophy of the Arts & Crafts movement. Beginning with a print shop in 1894, it grew to include a bindery, a leather shop, a metalworking shop and a furniture shop. Today, the campus is managed by a foundation that has restored several of the buildings, including the Roycroft Inn, where we had a fine lunch in their private dining room.
I know Wright is criticized for his tendency to put design considerations ahead of the comfort of his clients, but I must say Fallingwater with sunshine pouring in through its many windows felt like a place to linger, more so than the Roycroft Inn with its heavy, dark furniture and its heavy dark panelling. Just my impression; I know there were others on the tour who are very fond of the Arts & Crafts style.
We spent one night at the Summit Inn in Farmington, Pennsylvania. Built in 1907, it is an interesting combination of the old and the new. Truly on a summit (our poor bus driver had a challenge on the twisting road to the top) the view is spectacular. In the morning, the inn was in sunshine, but heavy mist had settled into the town below. I very much enjoyed the grand lobby of the hotel with doors leading to an upper terrace, a huge boulder fireplace burning brightly, and vintage chairs in which to cuddle up. Amenities included boards for chess and checkers; it was that kind of place.
Our other night was spent at a Hilton Hotel in downtown Buffalo. It was fine, but much less interesting. We all appreciated Sharyn and Brian’s exceptional organizational skills. At both our hotels, our evening meals were ready for us when we arrived.
Many, many thanks to Sharyn and Brian for all their hard work and to my fellow travellers for all the fun.