Martin House announces Strategic Partnership to launch Coles House Foundation

The Mellon Foundation to fund partnership to develop and plan for Robert T. Coles House and Studio

The goal of transitioning the Robert T. Coles House into a public cultural site in Buffalo is one step closer to reality thanks to a $150,000 grant awarded to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House (fiscal sponsor for the Coles House Foundation). The funding, gifted by The Mellon Foundation, will support the Foundation in organizational and programmatic development and strategic planning, thus allowing it to move forward, faster, with its honorable goal of further recognizing and memorializing the legacy of the prominent Buffalo-born architect Robert T. Coles.

Robert Traynham Coles becomes the first African-American Chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows, 1994

Interestingly enough, Coles’ own home and studio at 321 Humboldt Parkway will one day be the museum dedicated to his life and work – facets that were forever intertwined. Because he was the first African American Chancellor of the American Institute for Architects (AIA), and his Buffalo-based firm was the first African American-owned firm in New York State, the house and studio were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

Soon, that same house will be a source of inspiration for future generations of Black entrepreneurs and artists, as well as the Buffalo community as a whole.

“Robert Coles’ work was architecture of social conscience with activism and giving back at its core,” said Scott Ruff, Principal Investigator of the Coles House Foundation. “In the spirit of Coles, we hope to provide an inspiring public space that is fully integrated with the community and a critical part of its renaissance.”

Next steps in the process of cementing Coles’ legacy will be to restore the modernist home and studio, which will then be available for community use.

Merriweather Library

John F. Kennedy Recreation Center

“Robert Coles designed civic buildings throughout Buffalo and beyond that included recreation centers, transportation complexes, a library, and municipal buildings that served a public function,” said Albert Chao, Principal Investigator of The Coles House Foundation. “He also believed in building design teams that looked more like the society it has to serve.”

The Martin House’s 12-month sponsorship, underwritten by the Mellon Foundation, will:

Ensure the Coles House Foundation can establish itself as a 501(c)(3) organization

Build relationships both locally and nationally

Create the support needed for public programs and engagements

“The Martin House is thrilled to work with the Mellon Foundation to support the creation of a new architectural destination in Buffalo,” said Jessie Fisher, Executive Director of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House. “The Coles House Foundation will be a dynamic community asset and we are proud to be able to use our resources and established infrastructure to support their journey.”

The Robert T. Coles House at 321 Humboldt Parkway

The post Martin House announces Strategic Partnership to launch Coles House Foundation appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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