One of the founders of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Jack Quinan was born in Somerville, Massachusetts to a “frustrated architect” mother who moved the family to eight different houses in Keene, New Hampshire, over 15 years. “We built three houses from plans that she selected and modified,” Jack says, “and one, a ranch house, was featured in New Hampshire Profiles magazine.” Jack was an art and art history major at Dartmouth College and earned a PhD at Brown University with a concentration in architectural history. Over a long academic career he taught mostly at SUNY Buffalo and also at Cornell and the University of Rhode Island. Jack is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Visual Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Curator Emeritus at the Martin House Restoration Corporation. Architecture has always been a big part of Jack’s leisure time as well. “Traveling to see cities and buildings is endlessly pleasurable,” he says. “For some reason I grew up fascinated by Native American culture and had to decide in 1967 whether to attend the University of Arizona to focus on that or to Brown for art history. In high school I subscribed to Arizona Highways in which one or two issues carried articles on Taliesin West. I still have them.”
What was your first experience or earliest memory of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture?
When I was 12 I went to New York with my mother and younger brother, a big deal because we were Boston-centric. Early in the morning I asked my mother if I could go by myself to the Today Show, which I did, but if I had only known I would have gone the other way, from the Summit Hotel on Lexington, to see the Guggenheim under construction. Darn.
What work of architecture that was demolished really affected you in a personal way?
The Larkin Administration Building.
Is there one work of Wright’s that has touched you more than any other?
Yes, the Darwin D. Martin House, and living for a year in the adjacent George Barton House.
What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve been a part of as a member of the Conservancy?
Just seeing the Conservancy develop over the years from its modest beginnings in Buffalo In 1984 thanks to so many wonderful people.
Do you have a favorite memory over your years with the Conservancy?
The first meeting we had in Mason City, Iowa, was a revelation. The buildings and the people in Mason City, like Bob and Bonnie McCoy, and those buildings on the tour, the Walters and the Grant houses especially.
What’s the greatest tool a preservationist has?
Passion and a deep appreciation of the built past as a record of who we are and where we have been.
Posted on February 26, 2017