News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT
GUSTAV STICKLEY AND CRAFTSMAN HOMES
At the turn of the last century a uniquely American tradition of home design and furnishing appeared: clean in line, solid in construction, choice in materials, and given to the aesthetic of a life lived in harmony with nature. The living room at Craftsman Farms nears full restoration to its original appearance. Many of the historic furnishings have been restored to their original locations during the Stickley era.
Gustav Stickley, the premier exponent of the movement in design and decorative arts called Arts and Crafts, built in 1908-1910 what was first to be a school, and later became his home, on a twenty-six acre site in Parsippany, near Morris Plains, in Morris County. Along what is now Route 10 West, the site, known as Craftsman Farms is a National Historical Landmark, and the log house Stickley called home is a center for the study of the American Arts and Crafts movement.
Stickley, having learned furniture making as a teenager, became disillusioned by the poor quality of mass-market furniture available in the late nineteenth century. Travelling in Europe, he was drawn to the products and ideas produced by Arts and Crafts designers internationally, which emphasized the natural beauty and durability of wood. Stickley also recognized that the expanding American middle class represented a reliable market for sturdy furniture and accessories. The eventual product from Stickley's Craftsman Workshops is known today as Mission furniture.
Stickley disseminated his products and ideas partly with the aid of his monthly periodical, The Craftsman. The publication contained articles about politics, industry, textiles and the economics of house design and decoration; all designed to promote the notion that Craftsman products, simple and functional, could help ease the lives of their owners.
The main Log House at Craftsman Farms is an example and repository of what Stickley himself called the 'straightforward' style. Influences on this then-revolutionary fashion is apparent in the furnishings and woodworking of Japanese, Shaker, and California Mission crafters. Originally constructed as the central meeting hall for a boy's farm school intended to inculcate the values he felt inherent in the simplicity and solidity of his designs, the interior was modified for use as his family living quarters. Logs used to build the house were cut from trees on the property, transported to the Stickley factory near his original home in Syracuse, New York for staining and finishing, then returned to the site for final construction. In what was an advocacy of family values in his day, Stickley had five fireplaces constructed in the home in the belief that a warm hearth would keep family members close. A hearth at one end of the living room is inscribed "The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Today, Craftsman Farms Foundation shares the Stickley vision by interpreting his house and its restoration to visitors from all over the world. Countless feet have crossed the threshold of the old log house