Our virtual tour of Gustav Stickley’s Log House is back with some notable recent additions to the museum’s collection.
At the south end of the dining room sits a monumental oak hall settle, c. 1902, with (functional) butterfly keys fluttering in graceful symmetry across the seatback.
After a devastating fire on Christmas Eve, 1901 that gutted the Stickley family’s Syracuse home and destroyed most of their belongings, Mr. Stickley completely renovated the interior. Based on Stickley’s Craftsman design principles, the house’s new interior became the first complete Craftsman interior in the United States.
The high back hall settle is the larger of two that were built for Gustav Stickley’s home at 438 Columbus Avenue in Syracuse, N.Y. The smaller of the two, now in the permanent collection of Crab Tree Farm, was built for the front hall and the larger, currently in our collection, was placed in the dining room inglenook at the back of the first floor. The settles never appeared in Stickley’s catalogues, and were probably custom designed for the house. It appears Stickley and his design staff were paying close attention to the scale of each space the settles were to inhabit. Though visually related, each piece is unique, differing slightly in height, length, seat depth, and proportion.
Regarding proportions, the smaller settle has a slimmer, more vertical presence. Whereas, the larger settle would mostly be seen from the side or at a deep angle, so its horizontally elongated construction is appropriately proportioned to the space. In the Dec. 1902 article “Visit to the House of Mr. Stickley” from The Craftsman, images of the first floor plan (pg 162), and the dining room inglenook (pg 168) show the placement of the larger settle, viewed from some distance through the dining room and toward the fireplace at the far end.
The design of the hall settle is a variation of the high-back colonial revival benches that were typically found in Queen Anne inglenooks in the 1870’s – 1880’s. Stickley’s design differs in the use of the raised butterfly splines, the Gothic arches between the feet and the use of oak, rather than pine or poplar.
The hall settle remained in the Columbus Avenue house until another fire in the 1970’s, when it was reportedly placed outdoors and someone drove away with it on the roof of a station wagon. It later came into the possession of New York dealer Michael Carey, who restored the finish around 1992 and placed the settle at auction in 1996, at which time it entered into a private collection. David Rago assumed ownership of the piece in 2005 and it remained in his possession until his gift to Craftsman Farms in 2010.
This summer, the hall settle will travel back to Syracuse, NY to be part of “An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts and Gustav Stickley,” a upcoming exhibition at the Everson Museum, which will include some familiar faces.
Tour more of the collection with our blog archives.