It was around noon Friday when the phone rang over at the Darwin Martin House.
The person at the other end of the line was calling on behalf of the Rolling Stones, in town for Saturday’s concert at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
They’d like to see the Jewett Parkway home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the caller said. Could they stop over for a private tour?
“Absolutely,” responded Mary Roberts, executive director of the Darwin Martin House.
Inside, Roberts was bubbling over with excitement.
“I was trying very hard to stay calm, but inside I was jumping up and down,” Roberts said. “My first date with my husband was a Rolling Stones concert.”
The last public tour of the day ended at about 4 p.m. Shortly before 5 p.m., Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts pulled up on Jewett Parkway with a group of about 10 friends and family members. The band wanted to keep this visit low-key – no publicity.
Roberts didn’t want to ask a lot of questions of them, either, but she had to ask the obvious one.
“How did you hear about the Martin House?” Roberts asked Jagger.
“Well, I did some research on Buffalo,” he told her.
Watts, meanwhile, is an admirer of architecture, Roberts said.
“They’re very sophisticated people. They know architecture,” Roberts said Saturday, as she retold the story of Friday’s visit. “They wanted to come see it. They wanted to have an interesting educational experience.”
Roberts gave the tour, along with a few others from her staff and HHL Architects, which has been overseeing the historic restoration on the Martin House.
Jagger and Watts started their tour just like all visitors to the Martin House do – by watching the introductory film.
They visited the gardener’s cottage and the recently finished basement. They were impressed by the home’s details and the woodwork. They enjoyed the pergola – the open air walkway between the Martin House and the conservatory. They spent about a half hour on the veranda, where they ate food provided by Tempo restaurant.
“They really enjoyed the lower level of the Martin House and the veranda. It’s just a lovely setting,” Roberts said.
The visitors bought some souvenirs from the gift shop, including Darwin Martin T-shirts.
Then, an hour and a half after they arrived, the Rolling Stones were gone.
“It was just wonderful because these guys really wanted to come to the Darwin Martin House,” Roberts said. “That was a sign that we’re really on the right track here.”
But with all the publicity surrounding the Rolling Stones in Buffalo this weekend, Roberts got to thinking:
“Who’s more famous?” Roberts wondered, “the Rolling Stones or Frank Lloyd Wright?”