The Collection: Morris Chair, no. 2341

Morris Chair in place

Gustav Stickley Flat-arm, Sling-seat Morris Chair, no. 2341
Dimensions: H: 37”, W: 29 ½”, D: 33 ½”
Materials: Oak, leather, metal
Date: 1902
Signed with red decal
Gift of James G.R. Hart, Barbara G. R. Hart, and Richard Hart to The Craftsman Farms Foundation
Photo: Ray Stubblebine

Thanks to the generosity of one Colorado family, the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms has been entrusted with the care of one of their family’s seats, an early 1902 Gustav Stickley #2341 reclining chair in nearly perfect original condition. 1911 images of the Log House interior at Craftsman Farms show only one reclining chair form in them, and that form is the #2341.

In 1901, a successful and forward-thinking attorney/businessman named John L. J. Jerome decided to build his family a summer home southwest of Denver on Christmas Hill near the town of Buffalo Creek, Colorado. La Hacienda — as the home would be known — was sighted and designed by the noted Colorado architect Frederick Junius Sterner (1862-1931) in a manner that could have come right out of Gustav Stickley’s magazine The Craftsman. During a 1902 trip to Auburn, N. Y., Jerome purchased 35 pieces of early Gustav Stickley furniture for his home from G.W. Richardson & Son, early retailers of Stickley’s furniture. Shipped in crates by train to Colorado, the furniture (along with wall coverings by William Morris) informed La Hacienda’s interior scheme.

Log House living room, c. 1911

Stickley’s Log House living room,  c. 1911.  A Stickley #2341 reclining chair is center right, behind the hexagonal library table. CFF archives.

Over the last century, generations of the Jerome-Hart family have lovingly cared for the home and its furnishings. Through a turn of events, the family became interested in donating their chair to the SMCF. A consortium of friends of the Museum consisting of John Toomey, Robert Kaplan, Beth Cathers, Marilee Boyd Meyer, and David Rudd worked with the Hart family to bring their gift to Craftsman Farms, where it was officially presented to the museum in October 2012 at its annual fundraising gala.

Very few examples of the #2341 chair are known to exist. The Jerome-Hart piece is singularly important both for its provenance and its pristine condition, retaining the original leather cushions, leather sling seat, and dark original finish.

For additional information, see the full history by James G. R. Hart.

–Thanks to the SMCF Collection Committee Chair Mark Weaver and Registrar Bernadette Rubbo for their contributions to this essay.

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New Museum Hours

Craftsman Farms - front doorWe’ve expanded our hours to better serve you!  Beginning this week, the Stickley Museum will be open Thursday – Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., YEAR ROUND.  And it’s all thanks to your recent and steady support!

In the coming months you may also look forward to new specialized tours, including an extended walking tour of the grounds set to launch this summer.  We hope you’ll join us!

It is the continued support and generous contributions of our funders and members that has made our expanded hours possible.  THANK YOU!

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The Collection: Hall Settle, c. 1902

Our virtual tour of Gustav Stickley’s Log House is back with some notable recent additions to the museum’s collection.

hall seat-1

Hall Settle, c. 1902
Dimensions: 89″w x ”h x 24”d
Material: Oak
Gift of David Rago and Suzanne Perrault
Collection of The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
Photo: Barbara Weiskittel

 

 

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.

Columbus Ave Hall Settle, c. 1902 Collection of Crab Tree Farm

Columbus Ave Hall Settle, c. 1902
Collection of Crab Tree Farm

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.

From "A Visit to Mr. Stickley's House," The Craftsman, Dec. 1902. The image "Inglenook, Dining-room" shows the placement of the larger Hall Settle in Mr. Stickley's Syracuse home.

Excerpt from “A Visit to Mr. Stickley’s House,” The Craftsman, Dec. 1902. The image “Inglenook, Dining-room” shows the placement of the larger Hall Settle in Mr. Stickley’s Syracuse home.

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.

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Now on view!

Oak Saw Horses, c. 1910 Gustav Stickley, The Craftsman Workshop,

Oak Saw Horses, c. 1910

Now on view in the Log House! Produced by Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops and custom made for Craftsman Farms, these two oak saw horses, c. 1910, supported a collapsible table which the family used during social events and other large parties.

Currently they can be seen on tours of the Log House on the front porch.

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“Stoddard, Durant and the Great Camps of the Gilded Age”

2012-06-05_09-06-26_960In looking toward the Farms Afield summer retreat to Great Camp Sagamore, the Stickley Museum is excited to welcome a visit and lecture, Sunday, March 10, from the site’s Assistant Director, Jeffrey Flagg.

Great Camp SagamoreFlagg’s presentation, entitled “Stoddard, Durant and the Great Camps of the Gilded Age,” will primarily focus on the history of Great Camp Sagamore which, built in 1897, was the wilderness retreat of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt family from 1901-1954 and is now a National Historic Landmark. Flagg will establish Sagamore’s context within the era of Great Camps and discuss the contributions of William West Durant, who as Flagg states “is widely considered to be the father of what is now commonly referred to as ‘Adirondack Rustic’ architecture.”

Flagg continues, “In 1898, as part of the effort to promote his development plans for the central Adirondack region, Durant hired well-known Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard to take a collection of photos of Sagamore, which were complied into an elaborate photo album.”  Stoddard’s photos will be featured in Flagg’s presentation.

Jeffrey Flagg is the Assistant Director of Programs and Marketing at Great Camp Sagamore, located in Raquette Lake, NY. He earned his Ph.D. in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green University, with an academic focus on environmental history and ethics. His dissertation traces the evolution of a comprehensive land ethic in the Adirondack State Park, which led him to Sagamore following his graduation in 1999. At Sagamore, Dr. Flagg has developed a variety of academic programs centered on Adirondack history and culture, for groups ranging from elementary pupils to graduate students, and from high school teachers to Elderhostel participants.

The lecture will be held in the Education Room at the Stickley Museum at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, with a reception to follow.

Join us for Jeffrey Flagg’s lecture and learn more about this summer’s Farms Afield to Great Camp Sagamore.  We hope to see you there!

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Save the Stone Piers!

Field thru stone piersold

In building Craftsman Farms, Gustav Stickley utilized local materials extensively, including the local fieldstone.  All gathered from the property, this fieldstone now makes up building foundations, chimneys, and fences, as well as a series of stone piers that lined the road through the vegetable gardens.  As seen in the above photo, the piers were designed as planters for English Ivy to provide year-round greenery on the property.  After 100 years of weather and exposure to the elements, the surviving stone piers are now in desperate need of repair.

DONATE

What can be done to save them?

pier sketchAs we begin the next phase of returning Craftsman Farms to its original beauty, a detailed restoration plan has been developed to rebuild the piers, to their Stickley era appearance. The plan, which is summarized in the drawing below left, was developed within the guidelines of Museum’s Historic Site Master Plan and meets or exceeds the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation Projects. Storms have badly damaged the already deteriorating piers and now water makes its way between the joints with every rainfall. Time is of the essence to save these piers and maintain the authenticity pier sketch interiorof Craftsman Farms. Each pier will be carefully disassembled, each stone numbered and each one’s original location noted on a map of the pier’s construction. Sturdy below ground construction and interior drainage will be installed so that the piers can withstand the elements. The exterior of the piers will then be carefully rebuilt placing each original stone back to its original location. The historical accuracy of using the stones that were dug on the property more than 100 years ago and placing them exactly as they were when Gustav Stickley lived here will maintain the treasured authenticity of Craftsman Farms. Approximately $36,000 to $40,000 is needed to complete the entire project including upgrading the surrounding landscape and ensuring its upkeep in the future.

The Stone Piers in 2008 – some deterioration is evident.

BLOGtwo piers 2008BLOGpier 2008

The Stone Piers in 2013 – the deterioration has continued.

Within the last five years many stones have broken away and now litter the ground.

BLOGpier 1 2013BLOGpier 2 2013

 

Where are the piers located?

map sketch

 

How can you help?

A gift of $36,000 or more will complete the entire project and the donor’s name will appear on a permanent plaque.

A gift of $9,000 will complete one pier and the donors’ names will be highlighted on plaque for one year.

Gifts of $1,000 to $8,999 will help begin the project and the donors’ names will be listed on a plaque for one year.

Gifts of $100 to $999 will make a difference and the donors’ names will be listed in the newsletter.

Gifts of any size will make a difference and are greatly appreciated!

 Will you donate now?

DONATE

For more information about this project or how you can help, contact executive director Heather Stivison at 973.540.0311 or hstivison@stickleymuseum.org.

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Stickley Style: Winter 1913

Vignette in the exhibition Styling an American Family: THe 1910s at Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Farms. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Vignette in the exhibition Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

 

As we approach the last weekend for the Styling an American Family exhibition at Craftsman Farms, we present one last installment of our virtual tour.  The exhibition continues on the second floor of the Log House where we will make two stops.

Our first stop is in the Girls’ Bedroom, where after a department store shopping spree in New York City, a young lady helps her friend into a new evening dress (black was the favored color for formal dinners).

This bedroom was shared by four of the five Stickley daughters: Mildred, Marion, Hazel and Ruth, who ranged in age from 23 to 13.  Eldest daughter Barbara, 24, married Ben Wiles, then circulation director for The Craftsman magazine, in October 1911.  They lived in a cottage on Craftsman Farms.

New York City was the fashion capital of the United States, much as it is today.  The stretch of 6th and 5th avenues running north from 14th Street to 57th Street was known as the Ladies Mile, with hundreds of shops specializing in dresses, hats, gloves, undergarments, perfumes and jewelry.  The largest women’s department stores in the world were there and several from the time still exist: Lord & Taylor, Saks, Henri Bendel and Macy’s.  In an essay titled “The Stickley Family at Craftsman Farms,” in Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms: A Pictorial History, David Cathers wrote that “by all accounts (Barbara) loved the city and, like her father, spent many evenings at the theater.”

Craftsman Farms Show Styling an American Family

LEFT: Day Dress. Blue linen embroidered with multicolored motifs, c. 1912. CENTER: Evening Gown. Black silk satin overlaid with black embroidered net, c. 1912. RIGHT: Lingerie Dress. White lawn cotton with insertion lace, c. 1910.  Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Tennis/Day Dress. Light blue linen with white embroidery, c. 1912.

Tennis/Day Dress. Light blue linen with white embroidery, c. 1912.

Shirtwaist Blouse and Walking Skirt.  Low neck cream lace shirtwaist blouse; cream cotton wide wale corduroy, c. 1913.

Shirtwaist Blouse and Walking Skirt. Low neck cream lace shirtwaist blouse; cream cotton wide wale corduroy, c. 1913.

Though many still opted for handmade garments, manufactured clothing offered broad choices at prices for most economic levels.  Under garments were chosen for the outfit under which they would be worn.  The basic layering started with a camisole followed by a corset, then a full-length slip or ‘combination’ (a slip with legs), at least one petticoat, then the

Gustav Stickley Jr. and unknown woman. Craftsman Farms Foundation.

Gustav Jr. and unknown woman holding tennis rackets. Craftsman Farms Foundation.

Marion Stickley, probably at the Farms, c. 1914. Craftsman Farms Foundation.

Marion Stickley, probably at the Farms, c. 1914. Craftsman Farms Foundation.

dress or ensemble.

Fashion options abounded for women of this time.  Women and girls were leading increasingly more active lives as sports like basketball, tennis, skating and motoring gained popularity and were no longer considered improper activities.   So women’s clothing became less restrictive and more functional.  David Cathers notes about Stickley’s daughters that they are all “remembered for their lively sense of humor, but Marion’s was perhaps the liveliest.”   Marion particularly liked to drive, and often picked her father up from the train station.

Across the hall in the Master Bedroom are two young ladies with their mother and a housemaid, finishing the packing details for a winter cruise to a warm locale.  This vignette is inspired by a trip Mrs. Stickley and two of her daughters made to Bermuda in 1913.  Much like sending the family to the cool mountains in the summer, as the Stickleys also enjoyed, traveling to a warm locale to escape winter was a part of upper middle class life.

Vignette in the exhibition Styling an American Family. Travel (1913).  Photo by Stephen Sartori. LEFT: Day Suit.  Tan linen embroidered with soutache braid and tapestry trim, c. 1913.  Shirtwaist Blouse.  Cream cotton and cream lace, c. 1913.  Mushroom Hat. Black beaver fur felt trimmed with black and cranberry ostrich plumes, c. 1913.  CENTER: Day Suit.  Cream wool three-piece suit, c. 1913.  Picture Hat. Cream wool felt trimmed with cream silk satin, c. 1913.  RIGHT: Cocoon Coat. Cream wool with gray fur trim and white silk tassels, c. 1913.  Walking Skirt. Black wool trimmed with large button detail, c. 1913.  Picture Hat. Black beaver fur trimmed with black and brown ostrich plumes, c. 1913.

Vignette in the exhibition Styling an American Family. Travel (1913). Photo by Stephen Sartori. LEFT: Day Suit. Tan linen embroidered with soutache braid and tapestry trim, c. 1913. Shirtwaist Blouse. Cream cotton and cream lace, c. 1913. Mushroom Hat. Black beaver fur felt trimmed with black and cranberry ostrich plumes, c. 1913. CENTER: Day Suit. Cream wool three-piece suit, c. 1913. Picture Hat. Cream wool felt trimmed with cream silk satin, c. 1913. RIGHT: Cocoon Coat. Cream wool with gray fur trim and white silk tassels, c. 1913. Walking Skirt. Black wool trimmed with large button detail, c. 1913. Picture Hat. Black beaver fur trimmed with black and brown ostrich plumes, c. 1913.

Bermuda, 1913.  Craftsman Farms Foundation.

The Stickley girls in Bermuda, 1913. Craftsman Farms Foundation.

 

Dressing for travel meant packing a wardrobe of formal clothing appropriate to being seen in public at any time of day or night.  Social conformity required different costumes for morning, afternoon and evening.  Since a great volume of clothing was required, packing required trunks.  The cleverest trunks had sections for clothing on hangers as well as drawers for smaller items.  For each woman, a minimum of two trunks was typically needed for a trip of a week or less.

The mother and her daughters are dressed for winter but the clothing being packed is for spring and summer.

Maid's Uniform.  Commercially made of black cotton with separate white collar, c. 1911.

Maid’s Uniform. Commercially made of black cotton with separate white collar, c. 1911.

The housemaid in the vignette is signified by her simple all-black dress with no apron.  She would have worn an apron while cleaning.  Packing would have been the maid’s responsibility.  The women would choose the clothing they wanted to take and the housemaid would see that it was cleaned, ironed and packed in an orderly way.

Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms is an exhibition of historic fashions from Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection.  The exhibition, on view through January 6, 2013, consists of 35 mannequins in historic period dress arranged in 9 environmental vignettes that illustrate some of the emblematic everyday activities and pursuits of an upper middle class American family in the 1910s, giving visitors the unique opportunity to view the human form within Gustav Stickley’s architectural masterpiece.

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After the Dance, 1914

Vignette in the Exhibition, Styling an American Family, After the Dance.  Historic fashions from Syracuse University's Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection/.  Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Vignette in the Exhibition, Styling an American Family, “After the Dance, 1914.”  Historic fashions from Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection.  Photo by Stephen Sartori.

This weekend, as many of us will be attending or planning holiday parties, spending time with family and friends, and generally making merry, we’ll stop to take a look at the vignette in the Styling an American Family exhibition titled “After the Dance.”  At the south end of the dining room, five young ladies are dressed for a formal night out dancing in 1914.  They have returned home, after the dance, rolled up the carpet and brought out the Victrola to continue the festivities into the morning hours.

Going to dances was extremely popular, as it allowed young men and women to socialize directly.  It also allowed time for married couples to catch up with friends and acquaintances.  Dances were the place to hear favorite musical pieces, learn about current popular music, and learn all the latest dances, which were promoted by the exhibition dance couple Vernon and Irene Castle.

Dances could be accomplished with 25 couples or less, a cleared space with a bare wood floor suitable for dancing, a small buffet supper and piano accompaniment.  A dance started earliest at 9:30 pm and rarely lasted past 1:00 am.  Dances were held in peoples’ homes but were also produced as benefits in public spaces like hospital halls or for profit in hotel parlors.  By contrast, a ball was the largest and most formal of dances, requiring well over 25 couples, a grand space, a full orchestra and a dinner of several courses.  Balls started at 10:30pm at the earliest and lasted until 3 or 4am.

A young woman was accompanied to a public dance by her mother, grandmother or unmarried aunt to act as chaperone. At someone’s home, chaperones were unnecessary, since the matron of the house was considered an appropriate chaperone for the group.  A chaperone was not just the guardian of a young lady’s virtue.  If her ward was shy, it was the chaperone’s task to make sure the younger woman was introduced to other young people and to keep her involved in the evening.  An outgoing young woman needn’t stay by her chaperone’s side, but should check back with her periodically throughout the evening.  Dancing provided young people with some of the only ‘alone time’ they were allowed in public.  Having a dance with a friend or crush offered a few minutes of intimate time without the chaperone directly by a young lady’s side.

The hostess of the dance stood at the entrance to the dance space to receive each guest until the dancing started.  If the dance were thrown in someone’s honor, the honoree would stand and receive with the hostess.  The hostess was expected to look out for shy and unattended girls, make them feel welcome and see that they were included.

Dance card for a party held at Craftsman Farms, June 26, 1912.  Gustav Stickley's shopmark, a joiner's compass with the motto "Als ik Kan" appears on Marion's dance card.  Photo courtesy of Craftsman Farms Foudation.

Dance card for a party held at Craftsman Farms, June 26, 1912. Gustav Stickley’s shopmark, a joiner’s compass with the motto “Als ik Kan” appears on Marion’s dance card.  Photo courtesy of Craftsman Farms Foundation.

Each attendee, female as well as male, was issued a dance card, usually a small booklet with a tiny attached pencil. The dance card listed the dances for the evening (two-steps, waltzes and fox-trots were very popular) and it was a young man’s pleasure to ask young ladies to place their names on a specific dance for the evening, and he would place her name on the same dance on his dance card.  It was a snub for either partner to miss a dance. It was also bad form to dance with the same person more than twice unless they were engaged to be married.

Evening dress was the most formal dress of the day and could also be the most colorful. Sleeve lengths could go as high as the shoulder and necklines could drop. Hemlines were as high as the ankle for ease of movement.  In the evening, a young woman could wear colorful gowns with a little sparkle and minimal jewelry but not enough to be accused of luring men inappropriately.  Married women could wear as much jewelry and sparkle as they pleased.

LEFT: Dance Dress.  Pink silk taffeta warp print pink silk taffeta underskirt, c. 1914.  RIGHT: Dance dress. White silk satin warp print panels over cream silk net, c. 1914.

LEFT: Dance dress. Pink silk taffeta warp print pink silk taffeta underskirt, c. 1914. RIGHT: Dance dress. White silk satin warp print panels over cream silk net, c. 1914.  Photo by Kristen McCauley.

Dance dress. Lavender marquisette over cream silk taffeta, mint silk taffeta sash, c. 1914.  Photo by Stephen Sartori

Dance dress. Lavender marquisette over cream silk taffeta, mint silk taffeta sash, c. 1914. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Dance dress. Light green silk chiffon  over pleated china silk trimmed with bands of satin ribbon, c. 1914.  photo by Stephen Sartori.

Dance dress. Light green silk chiffon over pleated china silk trimmed with bands of satin ribbon, c. 1914. photo by Stephen Sartori.

Evening and dance dresses followed fashion in 1914 with fuller skirts, lowers necklines and raised hems to show off all the fancy footwork of the latest dances.  Their soft, bright colors took inspiration from the costumes of the Russian Ballet, making the dresses look like fairytale creations.  Dance dresses were often altered so one would never wear the same dress twice.  Girls would change necklines, add ribbons or lace, and make other alterations at home to constantly update their dance attire.  Long spill curls, like we see here were popularized by the actress Mary Pickford.

During dances at Craftsman Farms, as well as weddings, receptions and teas, the dining room would have been in active use.  It was fashionable to serve light meals buffet-style for these occasions.  The Stickley’s sideboard would have been utilized for the display and serving of food, such as salads (aspics), bonbons, cake, sandwiches and finger foods like nuts and dried fruits.  The dining table would have been used to serve drinks such as wines, punch, lemonade and coffee.  Rather than eating at the dining table, food was eaten at drop-leaf tables, folding tables or the makeshift sawhorse tables Mr. Stickley had made for parties and gatherings.

Dressing rooms were often provided for both male and female attendees with servants to watch over garments and help keep the spaces tidy.  Dressing rooms allowed women and men to leave behind wraps, coats, hats, etc. and could be stocked with light drinks, like sparkling water, for refreshment.

Dance dress. Coral pink silk satin with silk net overlay, c. 1914.  Phonograph on loan from Trustee Ray Stubblebine.

Dance dress. Coral pink silk satin with silk net overlay, c. 1914. Phonograph on loan from Trustee Ray Stubblebine. Photo by Kristen McCauley

Popular songs of the day included, Glow Worm, The Green Grass Grew All Around and Shine On Harvest Moon.  The advent of the Victrola made it possible to have music in the home without a live band or someone at the piano.  The phonograph on display here was extremely modern for the time for two reasons: most recorded music was still on wax cylinders and most players still used large amplification horns.  The doors on the front of this unit control the volume.  This was probably considered a portable model.

Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms is an exhibition of historic fashions from Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection.  The exhibition, on view through January 6, 2013, consists of 35 mannequins in historic period dress arranged in 9 environmental vignettes that illustrate some of the emblematic everyday activities and pursuits of an upper middle class American family in the 1910s, giving visitors the unique opportunity to view the human form within Gustav Stickley’s architectural masterpiece.

 

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Holiday Wishes from Our House to Yours

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A Casual Evening at Home, Fall 1910

We continue our virtual tour of the Styling an American Family exhibition with a casual evening at home in the fall of 1910.

At the north end of the living room, gathered around the hearth, are four young women involved in recreation for a very casual evening at home, wearing shirtwaists and walking skirts, the representative casual outfit of the Progressive Era.

Vignette in the exhibition: Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms. Photo by Stephen Sartori

The term ‘waist’ refers to the part of the garment from the waist up (now called a bodice).  One could have evening waists, day waists, or in this case a ‘waist’ styled after a man’s dress shirt and referred to as a ‘Shirtwaist’.  They were mass-produced and could be as inexpensive as fifty cents, were easy to wear with a separate colored walking skirt and easily laundered.  The shirtwaist could be worn with a skirt for morning and afternoon wear and was appropriate for staying home.  With the addition of a jacket to match the skirt, this outfit was appropriate for shopping, running errands and casual visiting.  Skirts worn with shirtwaists were called walking skirts because they were ankle length, making it unnecessary to hold the skirt up when walking, as one would do with a formal, floor-length skirt.

The trend toward shirtwaists and skirts took off in the 1890’s when this simple, functional outfit became the standard for young working women.  Jobs as shop and office clerks, typewriters (later called typists) and telephone operators required freedom of movement and clothing that was easy to care for.

The Living Room scene we are looking at today is set with games and books of the period. Card games like whist, gin rummy and bridge were hugely popular, board games were becoming more popular and reading was a primary diversion for free time.  Needlework, knitting and crocheting were all popular functional pastimes.

Shirtwaist blouse and walking skirt, c. 1910. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Seated on Mr. Stickley’s one-of-a-kind, high-back, leather settle (c. 1902) a young girl has put down her knitting and picked up Louisa May Alcott’s Under the Lilacs (1878).  She wears a white cotton long sleeved shirtwaist blouse with separate starched collar and a black wool walking skirt, c. 1910.

Popular books of 1909-10 included Anne of Avonlea (sequel to Anne of Green Gables) by L.M. Montgomery; Ethan Fromme, by Edith Wharton; Howards End, by E.M. Forster; The Golden Bowl, by Henry James; Three Lives, by Gertrude Stein; The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke; Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (the prequel to Peter and Wendy, now known as Peter Pan) by J.M. Barrie; The Emerald City of Oz (book #5 in the series), by L. Frank Baum and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, by Beatrix Potter.

In front of the fireplace, we interrupt a friendly game of cards.  A young woman in a white embroidered shirtwaist blouse and taupe wool walking skirt (c. 1910) helps up her friend, who wears a white cotton long sleeved shirtwaist blouse and red wool jumper with soutache trim, c. 1910.

Vignette in the exhibition: Styling an American Family. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

Shirtwaist blouse and walking skirt, c. 1910. Oak fall-front desk, Craftsman Workshops c. 1903. Photo by Stephen Sartori.

To the right of the fireplace, by the c.1903 oak fall-front ladies desk, a young woman takes a break from writing letters with a hammered copper Craftsman Workshops desk set.  She is wearing a white cotton shirtwaist blouse with blue couching and a black silk taffeta walking skirt, c. 1910.

Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms is an exhibition of historic fashions from Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection.  The exhibition consists of 35 mannequins in period dress arranged in 9 environmental vignettes that illustrate some of the emblematic everyday activities and pursuits of an upper middle class American family in the 1910s, giving visitors the unique opportunity to view the human form within Gustav Stickley’s architectural masterpiece.

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