BUFFALO, NY - Mary F. (Jenkins) Roberts ’77 studied accounting at Canisius College so it seems fitting that, today, she oversees one of Buffalo’s greatest assets.
As executive director of the Martin House Restoration Corp., Roberts manages the comprehensive restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House, an architectural masterpiece recognized around the world. Wright designed the residential estate in the early 1900s for Darwin Martin, a wealthy industrialist in Buffalo. Scholars consider the North Buffalo house to be one of the architect’s greatest achievements. The restored home holds National Landmark status and stands out among revitalization efforts taking place across the city.
“We like to say the Martin House is two stories high but a thousand stories deep because of the many people coming together to restore Wright’s vision,” Roberts explains.
Roberts became involved at the Darwin Martin House in 1996 at the encouragement of her husband, Tom, who suggested that they volunteer. Two years later, the organization hired Roberts as director of finance, just as it was about to undertake a restoration of the Jewett Parkway complex. Roberts was named executive director of the Martin House Restoration Corp. in 2006.
Under her leadership, the Martin House has raised approximately $50 million for the restoration and Roberts has overseen more than six major phases of renovation. She works with a 30-member board of directors, an experienced staff and nearly 400 active volunteers.
“The complex has an amazing ability to bring people together – dedicated board members, talented staff and volunteers, leading architects and consultants, and of course, our visitors,” she says.
Roberts is on the board of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership; chair-elect of Visit Buffalo Niagara, the region’s tourism agency; and treasurer of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based national organization.