Edward Boynton was a successful lantern salesman and partner in the C. T. Ham Manufacturing Co. of Rochester. Boynton learned of Frank Lloyd Wright through a business partner, Warren McArthur. Wright had built the Warren McArthur House in the Kenwood District of Chicago in 1892. In 1907, Wright came to Rochester to help Edward and his daughter Beulah select a site for their home. Boynton bought four city lots on East Blvd., which would provide space for an expansive garden with rectangular reflecting pool accented with a semicircular bed of flowering plants, and tennis courts, and give that open prairie feel Wright was looking for. The plans also called for 28 American elm trees on the property.
Boynton's daughter helped him work with Wright on the design of the house as his wife had died years earlier. Wright and Beulah Boynton established a great architect-client relationship - not always the case for Wright with his clients. Wright incorporated many of her suggestions into the structure and design. Wright would frequently and unexpectedly show up at the site during construction and once there, never leave the house for 2 to 3 days - often sleeping in makeshift sheds set up by the workmen.
The home is oriented sideways on the lot. The living room is extended west by a veranda which aims towards the street. The dining room is very large and includes rows of leaded art glass windows on each floor, with separate designs for casements and clerestory windows and overhead light panels. The veranda was later enclosed and the same art glass added to it. The cost of the house and site was $55,000.00, a large sum in 1908. The Boyntons lived in the house until 1918.
In 1932, Frank Lloyd Wright returned to Rochester for a lecture at the Memorial Art Gallery and was distressed to discover the gardens and tennis courts gone, the house surrounded by other homes, and the remains of the reflecting pool on a neighbor's property, remarking "That's the last time I'll design for a space I've never seen. I thought it was sited on a hilltop surrounded by a stretching expanse of space." After several owners, the Landmark Society purchased the house, then sold it with covenants to protect the exterior and interior, including the original Wright designed furniture, now owned by the Landmark Society. This home is still a private residence. The elms are gone, a casualty of Dutch elm disease in the 1960s.
As a result of harsh weather conditions in Rochester and problems with the original design, its upkeep has been a continual problem, as documented in detail by one resident who grew up in the house. An extensive restoration project (both inside and out) was completed in 2012. The two and a half year restoration project was undertaken by the present owners of the house, Francis J. Cosentino and his wife Jane E. Parker, who purchased the house in 2009 for $830,000. The progress of the restoration work was documented in a Rochester, N.Y., Public Broadcasting Station channel WXXI program entitled, "Frank Lloyd Wright's Boynton House: The Next Hundred Years."
The Rochester, N.Y. based architecture firm, Bero Architecture PLLC, was the lead firm in the restoration of the house. The outdoor space was designed by Mark H. Bayer and his team from Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC, Rochester. All of the windows and other glass in the house, including light fixtures and glass-fronted cabinet doors, were painstakingly restored by glass artist and Wisconsin native, Jeffrey Mueller, owner of Godfrey Müller Studios, a glass restoration company in Rochester. The existing Wright designed furniture and all the woodwork in the house, some of which had been painted over time by previous owners, was meticulously refinished, repaired, and restored by Eric Norden, owner of Eric Norden Restorations, in Rochester. The new furniture was designed in the spirit of Wright collaborator, George Niedecken, from designs for furniture in other Wright designed Prairie School homes. Darryl Gronsky, an interior designer in Rochester, along with the input of homeowner Jane Parker, referred to Niedecken’s designs archived and in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wis. to help select and purchase materials and fabrics for the renovated home. Bero Architecture had the new furniture in the Niedecken-Wright spirit manufactured. The cost of the restoration was over $2 million.
The house is part of the East Avenue Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Source: Wikipedia, May 2014