Arts & Crafts Road Trips
In December the editorial staff and I took a road trip to The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Having lived in northern New Jersey for 17 years (another lifetime ago) I am familiar with Morris Plains but was unaware of the museum’s existence until researching Gustav Stickley for this month’s issue.
The museum is located at 2352 Route 10 West, an address along what is known to locals as Box Store Alley for the miles of brand stores and strip malls that frame this east-to-west corridor of commerce. It is a sharp right turn into a barely visible entrance that transports visitors back in time to this early 20th century country estate and Arts & Crafts gem in the woods.
Having called ahead, we were greeted by Executive Director Vonda Givens and then given a personally guided tour by Vice President of the Board and long-time Docent Peter Mars. We thank them both for their time and for the education they imparted.
Stickley purchased this land in 1908 with the utopian vision to build a farm school for boys on the property. He originally designed the main house, the Log House, as a “club house,” a gathering place for workers, students and guests, although he modified it shortly thereafter for his family when the school’s opening looked like it would be delayed. The Log House, which turns out to be the only home Stickley designed and built for his own use, is now widely considered to be one of the most significant landmarks of the American Arts and Crafts movement.
Although the house and property were sold at a bankruptcy sale in 1917, the new owners maintained the farm in Stickley’s tradition, adapting certain interior features for modern family life, and retaining many of the original furnishings. Today, Craftsman Farms consists of 30 carved-out acres in the woods, various original buildings, three of the four Craftsman-influenced cottages Stickley had built on the property for guests and family members, and his home, now the Log House Museum, which showcases a number of original-to-the-house items and furnishings in re-created period room settings that look like the Stickley family just stepped out but will be returning shortly.
Stickley’s design ideals, the importance of his publication The Craftsman in promoting the Arts & Crafts philosophy and his utopian vision for Craftsman Farms is a story shared in this issue by Erica Lome, with photographs taken by Managing Editor Judy Gonyeau.
In the spirit of this month’s focus on the Arts & Crafts Movement I thought I would share some other road trip destinations should you find yourself inspired and in the neighborhood:
The Gamble House in Pasadena, California (www.gamblehouse.org), constructed in 1908, is the internationally recognized masterpiece of the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts Movement in America. Built for David and Mary Gamble of The Procter and Gamble Company, the house is the most complete and best preserved example of the work of architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, who made a profound impact on the development of contemporary American architecture. Inside, furniture, built-in cabinetry, paneling, wood carvings, rugs, lighting, leaded stained glass, accessories and landscaping are all custom-designed by the architects, in the true hand-crafted spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House in Gloucester, Massachusetts (www.historicnewengland.org), was the summer home of one of America’s first professional interior designers, Henry Davis Sleeper (1878-1934). The interior and exterior of the house contain Sleeper’s lifetime collection of curiosities, colored glass, folk art, china, and silhouettes in every nook and alcove. Each of the forty rooms is distinguished by a historical or literary figure, theme, color, shape, or object. No two rooms are the same, with each more visually dazzling than the last. The house is framed by newly restored Arts and Crafts-style terraces that include intimate garden rooms with dramatic views of the harbor.
Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona (www.arizonabiltmore.com). The Arizona Biltmore is a living architectural masterpiece, showcasing the seminal influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. As the consulting architect, Wright collaborated with a former student, Albert Chase McArthur. Wright’s dramatic style and imprimatur are imbedded throughout the resort’s design.
In my research for this issue I also came across information about the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement (MAACM) scheduled to open in 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. MAACM will display what has been described as “one of the most important collections of American Arts and Crafts, in all media, in private hands,” to include work by Gustav Stickley, Charles Rohlfs, Frank Lloyd Wright, the artists of Byrdcliffe Colony, Greene and Greene, Dirk van Erp, Roycroft, William Grueby, Newcomb Pottery, and Arthur Wesley Dow. You can read more about the collection and the collector behind it in this month’s Collector’s Showcase column. Something to keep on your radar.
Publishers Corner: February 2016