Architecture · Historic Places

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

The Log House - Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, designed by Gustav Stickley c. 1911.

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms was the home of Gustav Stickley (1858-1942), America’s most significant leader in the Arts & Crafts movement. It’s now a museum in Morris Plains, New Jersey. As you might expect, Stickley designed the buildings and its contents himself. He originally intended for Craftsman Farms to be a school and community craftsmen, but his dream was never realized. Instead, the main building (called the Log House) became Stickley family’s home from 1911 to 1915. We’re fortunate that it’s been so well preserved in the century since then. According to the museum’s website, the Log House is “is now widely considered to be one of the most significant landmarks of the American Arts and Crafts movement.”

Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
Beautiful and homey first-floor living space at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.

Although I’ve driven past signs for the Stickley Museum many times, I only recently got my chance to visit during the local Holly Walk. I was very taken with the place. The house is homey, down-to-earth, and rustic while still being quite elegant. I particularly loved the beautiful light fixtures, the exposed log ceiling beams, and the Art Nouveau-esque details on the furnishings. The metalwork is exceptional, particularly the brass and copper pieces fireplace hoods inscribed with phrases relating to Arts & Crafts values. Stickley was known for his simple and sturdy furniture, and much of that was on display. So were textiles, tableware, and issues of Stickley’s Craftsman magazine. I got a pamphlet that talks about all the Stickley originals on display.

Like most of the other historic sites on the Holly Walk, the Log House was decorated for Christmas. All of the greenery – garlands, wreaths, and a Christmas tree – looked right at home in the log cabin-style the house. Also because of the Holly Walk, full tours weren’t available, so I look forward to going back soon to learn more. I’ll report back when I do. The farm is about 30 acres (substantially less than when Stickley lived there), so I’ll likely return in nicer weather. If you’re interested in experiencing the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, start out by visiting its website.

About the Arts & Crafts Movement

Arts & Crafts was an architecture and design movement that began in England in the mid-19th century. Establishing itself in direct opposition to the Industrial Revolution, it stressed handicraft, manual skill, and the importance of the individual worker. Arts & Crafts designs are recognizable for their simple and clean forms, truth to materials’ natural appearances, and floral or geometric patterns. Arts & Crafts practitioners viewed mass production as inferior in quality, excessive in its decoration, and harmful to both workers and consumers. Learn more here at The Art Story.

Update May 6, 2018: I went back to the museum today for a full tour. I had a wonderful time, and I learned so much about Stickley, his family, and the Arts & Crafts movement in America. I also took this beautiful photo of the front of the house in the lovely spring weather.

Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
The log house at Craftsman Farms. This was originally the front of the house, but visitors don’t enter from this side anymore. It’s beautiful in the spring landscape.


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