The Collection: The Living Room

We’re displaying some of the pieces in our historic house museum online. This is the second post in this series, the first one features the inlaid beds in the girls’ bedroom.

Library Table
Dimensions: 93 1/2″ W x 29 3/4″ H x 36 1/2″ D
Materials: Elm with copper hardware
Date: Ca. 1902 – 1903
Designer: Unknown
Anonymous gift to The Craftsman Farms Foundation.

In 1904, Irene Sargent wrote an unsigned essay about the Syracuse Craftsman Building, where the Stickley firm had its offices, design studio, and metal and textile workshops. Her essay appeared in a promotional booklet, titled “What is Wrought in The Craftsman Workshops,” and included photographs of several of this building’s rooms. One of the photographs showed The Craftsman magazine’s “principal editorial room,” and Sargent described its furnishings, mentioning “simple bookcases and high-backed settles,” and then telling readers that “a large library table, with its accompanying armchairs, occupies much of the floor space, which is covered with a deep green Donegal rug.”

About six years later, Stickley took some of this furniture to Craftsman Farms. The editorial room bookcase, made of elm, a wood Stickley’s firm rarely used, went into the log house dining room, and is now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The settle was placed in front of the fireplace at the north end of the living room; its present whereabouts are unknown, and a replica fills that space today. The Donegal rug pointed out by Sargent is probably also lost; it has not so far been possible to identify it from the photograph in “What is Wrought in The Craftsman Workshops.” But the one-of-a-kind “large library table,” stained green and, like the bookcase, made of elm, was placed in the log house living room and may be seen there today.

This big table – nearly eight feet long – has three drawers on either side, making it a functional “partners’ desk,” where more than one person can work at a time. Its massiveness, the oval copper handles on its drawers, and the resolutely straight-lined planks that it is made of are the hallmarks of furniture Stickley made in 1902 and early 1903. Yet there are 1901 Stickley traits here too. The long, curved corbels that brace the legs are similar to the corbels on the #2341 Morris chair at the south end of the living room. The rounded, shaped tenon ends that pierce the legs are very like those on the hexagonal library table, also at the south end of this room. But perhaps its color is what makes this table so noteworthy. Stained green, it originally stood on a green Donegal carpet in the Craftsman Building’s editorial room. At Craftsman Farms, a mostly green patterned Craftsman drugget rug was on the floor beneath it. And the large oil lamp that Stickley placed on the table’s top had a green-glazed Grueby base. Revealed structure and good proportion are key elements of Stickley’s visual vocabulary, but color and color harmony are every bit as important. It is worth noting that when the foundation took possession of the table it was a more typically “warm brown” Craftsman finish. During restoration of the table the hardware was removed and under it was the original green color, probably an aniline stain altered by exposure to the sun over a long time. The original hardware had been smaller, too. At some point Stickley replaced that hardware with larger escutcheons.

Visit our main site for more information about the rest of the living room and other pieces in the collection, or plan a visit to Craftsman Farms to see the collection for yourself!

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2 Responses to The Collection: The Living Room

  1. Art says:

    The whole room is truly gorgeous. I love everything in it.

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