2017 Administration Building Rehabilitation!

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is delighted to announce plans to undertake a full rehabilitation of the Administration Building on the Craftsman Farms campus. This project, made possible through generous Open Space funding support from the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, will be launched in the latter half of 2017.

Shortly after the museum’s Board of Trustees adopted the organization’s current 5-year strategic plan, the vision for this project emerged. A key objective of the strategic plan was a goal to expand museum facilities to accommodate and encourage future growth. Expanded space was needed for staff offices, exhibitions, programs, and collections storage. While the current administration building project received considerable focus over the past 5 years, in truth, expansion of the museum’s facilities has been an objective of its leadership for many years.

In 2013, Trustees were greatly assisted with progress toward the goal of expansion with the help of Open Space funds from the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills which underwrote feasibility studies on two original buildings, the White Cottage and the Administration Building. The results of these studies led Trustees to take a much closer look at the Administration Building, which was recommended for rehabilitation in the museum’s 2009 Historic Site Master Plan, as the answer to the organization’s most urgent facility needs. (At the same time, Trustees established a stabilization plan for the White Cottage, a project that will also launch in 2017. Funded by generous grants from the New Jersey Historic Trust and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, this project will be featured in a future newsletter.)

Currently housing administrative offices, the Administration building, in the Stickley era, was used for utilitarian purposes, with a garage at its lower level and a workshop on its upper floors, which were devastated by fire around 1950. After the fire only one floor was rebuilt. Originally, this building was located at the far end of the residential core of the property. Its rear windows would have overlooked the orchard, which is now the main parking lot. Today, with Route 10 serving as the only access point to the property (the original access on Route 53 is blocked), the Administration Building is the first building seen by visitors.

With the promising results of the feasibility study, Trustees began working with HMR Architects on a plan for total rehabilitation of the Administration Building—a rehabilitation that would bring substantial progress in expanding facilities, particularly space for programs, staff offices, and collections storage. The new design preserves the original garage at the lower level, making it a combination multi-use conference room and program space, with seating for up to 100 people. The main and 2nd floor will be office space, with a large area on the upper floor set aside for collections storage. In rebuilding the two floors, not only does this plan re-establish Stickley’s original vision for the building, it provides a suitably impressive entrance to this important National Historic Landmark.

Read more about our temporary relocation plans and all of our upcoming programs in the Summer 2017 issue of Notes from the Farms.

Posted in Local Events, Local News, Museum News, Preservation and Restoration, Upcoming Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2017 Administration Building Rehabilitation!

Original: Gustav Stickley Furnishes His Log House

Original: Gustav Stickley Furnishes His Log House

Saturday, May 20 to Sunday, December 31

Our 2017 exhibition Original: Gustav Stickley Furnishes His Log House, co-curated by Dr. Jonathan Clancy and Peter K. Mars, will offer a new exploration of the original interior of the Log House, Stickley’s family home and the heart of his ideal country estate, Craftsman Farms. From 1911 to 1917, the Log House served as a showcase for Stickley’s signature Craftsman Workshops furnishings and for his Arts and Crafts aesthetic. The exhibition, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Stickley’s 1917 sale of the property, will celebrate his achievements at Craftsman Farms with a fresh focus on the Log House interior and its original furnishings.

Presenting a comprehensive view of Stickley’s material world, the exhibition will be incorporated throughout the Log House, and will feature furniture, home furnishings, and cherished family belongings known to be original to Gustav Stickley’s home before it was sold in 1917. It will offer insights into the Log House’s interior aesthetic—a blend of special commissions, English and French decorative arts, and furnishings with sentimental value—and into Stickley’s personal taste and style.

Important original furniture and furnishings on loan to the museum during this commemorative year will be featured, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s generous loan of a green-stained elm cabinet with copper hardware that is visible in published photos of the Log House dining room. In sharing new research on the Stickley Museum’s collection, the exhibition will highlight the institution’s long-term commitment to return original furnishings to the Log House.

photo courtesy of The Met

Original will give viewers the opportunity to experience Stickley’s aesthetic vision by bringing together objects that have not been seen collectively since Craftsman Farms was sold in 1917. Assembled at the height of his entrepreneurial success, the original furnishings of the Log House provide a unique look into the taste and mind of one of the Arts and Crafts movement’s most original thinkers.

Visitors may view this special exhibition on all regular tours of the Log House, which run hourly Thursday to Sunday, from 12:15 to 3:15. The museum will also offer special opportunities to experience the exhibition including an Exhibition Opening on Saturday, May 20, and exclusive after-hours tours with curator Pete Mars in June and July.


Posted in Exhibition, Museum News, The Collection, Upcoming Events | Comments Off on Original: Gustav Stickley Furnishes His Log House

North Cottage Preservation in Progress

Restoration of the North Cottage windows, a project that has long been in the works for the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, got underway in the fall of 2016. Slated to be completed in early 2017, the project is supported by grants from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, which had previously awarded a 2013 grant funding its first phase.

Located on the northeast corner of the current property, the North and South Cottages were completed in 1910. The first buildings constructed at Craftsman Farms, these cottages were home to the Stickley family until the Log House was completed in 1911. Although they were originally envisioned as part of Stickley’s unrealized school, the cottages instead became homes to the growing young families of his daughters Barbara and Mildred Stickley, who both married at Craftsman Farms during the family’s years on the property. The Farny family, who purchased Craftsman Farms in 1917, rented out the cottages during the latter half (the 1950s through the late 1980s) of their years on the property.

After Craftsman Farms was rescued from private development in 1989, preservation work was focused primarily on the Log House, Stickley’s home and the heart of the property. Though work on the Log House will continue, the stabilization of the structure over the years, has made it possible to turn attention to other buildings. The North Cottage emerged as an obvious place to start.

Over the past ten years, the museum has undertaken a variety of projects to preserve the North Cottage, making it available for programs and retaining some of the building’s Farny-era history. When preservation projects first began on the North Cottage, all of its original windows were removed to prevent their further deterioration. Once a restoration plan for the windows was in place, the museum sought funding to begin the work.

While the project is in progress, the North Cottage has been closed, though visitors will occasionally see work underway, both inside and out, as the window trim is restored (see below).

“So far I’ve seen two windows with their leaded glass restored, and I’m eager to see them installed,” said Executive Director Vonda Givens. “They’re beautiful and have renewed my appreciation for Gustav Stickley’s attention to detail on the property.”

We look forward to re-opening the North Cottage, which is often a feature of special interest tours, for programs in 2017. Watch our event calendar for details and a chance to see the newly restored windows yourself!

Posted in Museum News, Preservation and Restoration | Comments Off on North Cottage Preservation in Progress

From the Director’s Chair by Vonda K. Givens

Vonda Givens

.From the Director’s Chair
expanded from the letter in
the Summer 2014 issue of
Notes from the Farms
Vonda K. Givens, Acting Executive Director


During the museum’s recent trip to Chicago, organized by Arts & Crafts Tours, I was introduced to the Glessner House and architect Henry Hobson Richardson, whose work influenced Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan.

Mrs. Glessner

Photo courtesy of Glessner House Museum.

As much as I enjoyed seeing this landmark home, I was equally intrigued by the Glessners, the remarkable couple who built it. Both raised in modest households, the Glessners came to wealth through Mr. Glessner’s farm machinery business, which later became International Harvester.  As they prepared to build their dream home, they struggled to find an architect, until they approached Richardson. Though his fortress-like design was negatively received by the community even before it was built, Richardson and the Glessners were united in their vision. The Glessners so admired Richardson that his portrait was hung—and remains—in the entry way of their home, the cozy interiors of which featured Morris wallpapers, William de Morgan hearth tiles, many Arts and Crafts furnishings and a thoughtful collection of books and art.

As the house’s promotional materials note, the Glessners together sought the “life of the mind,” dedicating their home and lives to cultural pursuits, including their role in founding the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While it’s clear that Mr. Glessner was an accomplished man, it was Mrs. Glessner who most captured my imagination. In room after room, as their story unfolded, Mrs. Glessner’s character emerged.

Though her wealth was linked directly to the rise of industrialization, I have come to think of Mrs. Glessner’s life as a singular embodiment of Arts and Crafts philosophy. An avid reader, collector, and artist in her own right, she applied herself equally to the development of her mind and hands. With her husband, she was dedicated to making a home that prized comfort and intimacy over grandeur and the latest fashion.

The mother of two, Frances Glessner shared an office with her husband, an unusual arrangement for the time, kept a diary of their household’s daily life for 40 years, and engaged in a wide variety of pursuits, including oversight of a weekly book club which met for 37 years. She was a skilled seamstress, needleworker, and knitter—completing an impressive array of more than 300 textiles, many on view throughout the house today, and 500 sweaters which she often gifted to those in need. She was a talented pianist and a beekeeper. She maintained a conservatory on their home’s 2nd floor and a silversmithing studio in the basement. A student of cookery, Mrs. Glessners’ knowledge was put to use during their frequent dinner parties.

Of course, it is arguable that with all of her accomplishments, Mrs. Glessner was simply following suit with the cultural activities typical of well-heeled ladies of her time and that, in another era, she, like her husband, would have pursued a professional career, likely with similar success. Yet none of this diminishes her achievements.

We often discuss Stickley’s endorsement of the “simple life,” but pursuing the simple life is quite complex. It requires living thoughtfully and intentionally, a commitment to making your actions a mirror of your inner values. Mrs. Glessner made it look easy.

Posted in Museum News, Of Note | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on From the Director’s Chair by Vonda K. Givens

‘Tis the Season

Holidays in the Log House: Candlelight Tours

Every year, the Stickley family home is adorned for the holidays in period style, c. 1915, with a focus on Gustav Stickley’s own principles. Utilizing holiday greens, pinecones, and the home’s forest palette, the decorations bring nature indoors and spotlight the Arts and Crafts movement’s emphasis on finding beauty in simplicity of style and materials.

By 1915 , the Christmas tree was a standard part of the American Christmas celebration and you could even light it with a string of electric lights.  Illustrator Thomas Nast had introduced the world to the Santa Claus we know and love today,  and on city streets you would surely find the familiar bell-ringing, Santa Claus-clad donation collectors. 

With the holiday fast approaching, volunteer Julie Peterson shares a behind the scenes look at our annual holiday decorating.

December 2009 100 Every year a group of volunteers gather mid-November to decorate the Log House for the holidays. On the appointed day, blue vinyl storage bins are brought down into the Education Room, carried into the Museum, and opened to reveal garlands, candles and other decorations to be placed on window sills and tables.

One of the rewards of this work is being in the museum without other visitors. It is a quiet place and there is time to really study the details and appreciate the unique features of Stickley’s design.

As we hang garlands and wreaths, we are “up close and personal” and can imagine the Stickley family putting candles on their tree and gathering greens from the yard to make wreaths for the doors. The tree is hung with an assortment of ornaments, some old and some new, and a toy train is assembled at the base.  Trains were some of the first electric toys and were available around 1900.

We imagine the Stickley girls in their bedroom chatting about holiday parties, singing carols around the piano, and working on Christmas crafts like stringing cranberries,  making paper chains and cornucopia cones to fill with candy for hanging on the family’s Christmas tree.   We imagine Mrs. Stickley wrapping gifts for her friends and family.

We make the dining room table ready for their holiday visitors with “cookies” made of handmade plaster and salt dough “fruit” (since nothing used in decorating the museum can be organic, a fire hazard or attract bugs) which represent the popular finger foods of the time.

For the outside doors, I made wreaths from natural materials, and I followed Stickley’s  own principles by harvesting them locally. Last year, hurricane Sandy, provided many downed pine boughs and rhododendron branches to use in decorating the Log House for the holidays.

December 2009 099Stickley’s magazine The Craftsman published several articles advocating the use of natural decorations: Greenery, holly, and mistletoe at the windows and doors suggest a “hint of immortality by remaining fresh and green throughout the apparent death of the world during winter.” (The Craftsman, December 1911, “Christmas Decorations from Winter’s Garden.”)

In January, we’ll come back to take it all down and put it back into storage for another year.

-Julie Peterson

Photos by Barbara Weiskittel

The Log House will be decorated through January 5, 2014.  Tours depart hourly from 12:15 – 3:15 p.m. every Thursday – Sunday.  Plan your visit.

Posted in Museum News, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Tis the Season

Help Us Meet The Challenge


Together we can make it happen!

Thanks to your gifts and the gifts of hundreds of generous supporters like you, we are a third of the way to our $7,500 challenge grant! Your annual fund donations support educational programs, building care and maintenance, and the day-to-day operations of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.


 Your continued annual support:

  • Helps protect and preserve a National Historic Landmark;
  • Introduces thousands of children to a world of history and culture;
  • Paves the way for visitors with limited mobility;
  • Advances emerging scholars in the Arts & Crafts community;
  • Produces original research and stimulating new exhibits;
  • Welcomes bus tours from senior centers;
  • Cultivates an artist’s residency program;
  • And sustains a high-quality cultural resource.

 But we can’t do it without you! 

Will you help us meet this Challenge with a year-end gift?  Right now, your gift will have a double impact – thanks to this match.

And thanks to generous supporters like you!


Posted in Museum News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Help Us Meet The Challenge

Behind the Scenes of a Summer Internship

Our summer intern, Allison O’Keeffe, reflects on her experience and getting to work with the museum’s collection.  

First Issue of The Craftsman Oct 1901While meandering through the grounds of Craftsman Farms, past the lily-studded pond, looking up at the former home of the furniture designer and craftsman Gustav Stickley and his family, I marveled at the beauty of the building. From its broad log beams to its towering chimney, it is almost impossible for me to imagine the skill that it must have taken to achieve its beautifully simple design. Gustav’s eminence in the American Arts & Crafts movement, his legacy of craftsmanship lives on through the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.

Similar to the integral joinery in Stickley’s furniture, the museum is built on the hard work of its staff. During my internship at Craftsman Farms I gathered a greater understanding about how museums help to protect historic treasures, provide knowledge, and work outside of the usual visitor perspective. I had little idea just how much happens behind-the-scenes and how important it is to organize and catalog the objects in the museum’s collection. Working with the museum’s registrar I explored the many books, magazines, and catalogs that the museum owns.

While the furniture and home design of Craftsman Farms might be a key attraction, the whole turn-of-the century style would not be complete without period books and Gustav Stickley’s self-published The Craftsman magazine. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of interning at Craftsman Farms was having an opportunity to hold knowledge from the past in my hands. Being able to carefully turn the delicate pages of hundred-year-old Craftsman magazines and imagining the person who may have owned them and cherished their contents enough to keep them safe through the years.

An article from The Craftsman that has wedged itself in my mind hopefully describes the sportsman’s paradise that could be achieved with the wholesale release of exotic Asian pheasants into the woodlands and meadows of the United States. The sole purpose of these birds, of course, was to shoot them. It even describes, not only how to raise them and insure that they populate the wild, but what bird is best to eat, how and served with what. While modern conservationists would most-certainly shudder at the purposeful release of thousands of invasive bird species into the wild, the article makes for a very entertaining read.

As the museum has been the recipient of generous donations of books, magazines, and catalogs over the years, a daunting task awaited me. Each book, magazine, and catalog must be assigned a unique number that is tied to information such as who donated it and in what year. The details are then entered into the museum’s database. Even the height, width, and number of pages must be accounted for. They must then find a home within the Stickley Museum where they can be easily accessed and kept safe. The more robust and alluring books, perhaps with gilt pages or embossed leather covers, might be out on display to catch an inquisitive eye. These gems are only the tip of the greater trove of treasures protected by Craftsman Farms.

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to peek under the lid of this treasure chest. Helping to evaluate, catalog, and sometimes peruse the collection has offered me valuable insight into just what happens behind the scenes at Craftsman Farms. This experience has also piqued my interest in the rest of the Arts & Crafts movement and given me insight into what makes The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms so endearing.

– Allison O’Keeffe is a senior at Skidmore College studying Fine Arts and Art History. She first became interested in Gustav Stickley and the American and European Arts & Crafts movements when taking a course called “the History of Modern Design” at Skidmore. She also finds inspiration for her own artwork in the designs of the movement.

Posted in The Collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Behind the Scenes of a Summer Internship

An August visit to Craftsman Farms

Log House Exterior Summer 012

“As the automobile turned up the shady road at Craftsman Farms the Traveler was struck again by the charm of the houses – the air of content with which they nestled beneath their own protecting eaves.”  —  The Craftsman, October 1910.


Photo: Vonda Givens, August 2013.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on An August visit to Craftsman Farms

Thoughts on the Craftsman Farms Walking Tour

Craftsman Farms Walking Tour

On Saturday, June 15 we launched our summer walking tour, “In Mr. Stickley’s Steps” with a special preview for Stickley Museum members.  The Craftsman Farms Walking Tour will be offered regularly through the summer beginning this Saturday. Guest blogger and Education Intern, Alexa Logush, offers up some of her thoughts on the inaugural tour in today’s blog.

The Stickley Museum’s new walking tour debuted on Saturday, June 15, 2013, offering a new look at the grounds at Craftsman Farms. This marvelous, two-hour tour explores the beauty and history of the museum, allowing its visitors to discover the North Cottage, White Cottage, the old orchards, and dairy barn, which are sights not typically visited on a regular house tour. Visitors also can enter the North Cottage and truly witness what life was like when Gustav Stickley and his family lived at Craftsman Farms. Tours are offered on the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of July and August.

Take a closer look on the Craftsman Farms Walking TourWalking through the grounds of Craftsman Farms provides adventuresome Arts and Crafts lovers with a rich display of the very present past. As a relatively new summer intern here at the Stickley Museum, I began the walking tour with an open mind and my trusty Canon camera dangling from my neck. Feeling the sun on my face and the light breeze at my back, it could not have been a more perfect day to experience this particular tour. Led by our guide, Pete, as a group, we were able to mosey about the grounds, listening intently to the truth behind events that once occurred beneath our very feet.

The walking tour expands the world of the Stickley family so that sights seem to come to life as you walk along, listen, and learn. Beginning at the Stickley house entrance, the tour emphasizes quiet reflection and a true connection with the world around you. It’s easy to become lost among the magnificent greenery, brawny stonework, and jovial foxgloves of Craftsman Farms. Crumbling brick and aged structures, such as the old fire-stricken dairy barn, add a slight hint of mystery to the history of the area. At certain points on the tour, I found myself a part of the past. I could see horses lazily nodding their heads near the dairy barn and the older Stickley girls walking arm in arm across the now hidden paths of the rose garden.

Visit the North Cottage on the Craftsman Farms Walking Tour

Each individual on the tour becomes acquainted with their own experience that is unique to their personal interests and knowledge. Stickley enthusiasts will be thrilled to experience entering the North Cottage, settling into the Arts and Crafts style furniture there, and simply walking alongside the old vineyard, freeing their imaginations.

Personally, I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced something quite like the walking tour. It encouraged me to find my place at Craftsman Farms, allowing me to see what once went on there. The magic of Craftsman Farms tingles through your toes and fingertips, urging you to discover more. I suppose the grounds, bursting with life and beauty, really speak to you, coaxing you to share your own stories as it shares its stories with you.

 Alexa Logush is a junior at The College of New Jersey, studying History and English. She will be interning at the Stickley Museum throughout the summer to learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement, the Stickley family, and Craftsman Farms. The Stickley Museum first struck her interest when her high school Art History teacher mentioned Arts and Crafts-era furniture and Gustav Stickley during class. She is eager to learn more about the world of the Stickley family.


The Craftsman Farms Walking Tour will be offered most Saturdays in July and August.  Visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes.  Bathroom breaks are offered throughout the tour and drinking water is provided.  See StickleyMuseum.org for more information and to make reservations.


Posted in Museum News, Of Note, Tours, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We are a Blue Star Museum!

Blue Star Museums The Stickley Museum is proud to once again join with other museums across the country in honoring our nation’s service men and women. Along with the other 2,000 Blue Star Museums we are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families now through Labor Day.

Executive Director Heather Stivison says, “The Stickley Museum has been a Blue Star Museum since the program’s inception. We are proud to participate with other museums across the nation as a way to express our appreciation for our country’s service men and women and their families who are sacrificing so much for our country.”

We are among 31 participating sites in New Jersey, and over 2,000 museums across the country.  The effort to recruit museums has involved partnerships with the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers. This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and 75 children’s museums.  Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after completing a military move.

About Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 through Labor Day, September 2, 2013.  The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps – and up to five family members. Please see the chart of the acceptable IDs (PDF).  Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly.  To find out which museums are participating, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. The site includes a list of participating museums and a map to help with visit planning.

All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter (#BlueStarMuse), on Facebook, and read the Blue Star Blog for profiles of participating museums, stories about military families, and tips on getting the most out of your visit.

Posted in Museum News, Tours | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on We are a Blue Star Museum!