Wayward Table Returns to Graycliff

Recently, a library table designed by Wright was returned to Darwin Martin's summer house on Lake Erie after it had been sold fifteen years before.

The conservancy had tried contacting the Colorado collector who bought the table and other furniture, but he never returned telephone calls, and members of the group had no idea if they had contacted the right person.

Then, last year, the owner contacted the conservancy when he wanted to sell everything but the 12-legged table, which is 33 by 54 inches.

“A table this size doesn’t need 12 legs, but four of them don’t touch the ground; they just connect the bottom shelf to the top,” Mahoney said. “The other eight go all the way down and have flairs that make the table light and airy, like a summer house should feel. So even though it’s a heavy table, he wants it to feel like a light table.”

By this time, the conservancy had acquired several pieces to match the other furniture and was not interested in buying anything but the table.

About nine months later, they heard from the man again, and this time, he agreed to sell the table for $5,400.

The only hitch was that there was no proof that the table was a genuine Frank Lloyd Wright design -- a sketch Wright had drawn of the table on a roof shingle had been destroyed in the 1960s.

Of course, the passionate Wright fan saved the day: president of the Graycliff Conservancy, Patrick J. Mahoney had visited the house as a teenager and gotten permission to photograph all of the Wright furniture in the house. The unusual 12-legged table (pressed into service as a bingo table) was missing one of its legs. Nearly twenty years later, when the Conservancy bought the house, the table had been sold, but Mahoney found the missing leg under a staircase. When the table was offered, the orphaned leg proved the authenticity of the item.

Funds for the purchase of the table were provided by the Hooper Family Foundation. The foundation is underwriting the restoration of the sunroom, of which the table was part of.