In the Fall of 1908 Gustav Stickley published a series of articles detailing his plans for his new estate, Craftsman Farms. In these articles was a proposed home for the designer and a club house proposed for his planned school for boys. But several years passed before these dreams could be fully put into reality. And with time the situation changed. The buildings pictured in The Craftsman were planned for a relatively flat site on his property located south of the current Route 10, but for unknown reasons when the construction on the clubhouse began, it was sited on the hilly northern section of the property.
When The New York Times reported the sale of Craftsman Farms on August 15, 1917 it noted that “more than $250,000 is said to have been spent” on developing the property. The new owners, the Farny family, built an addition off the kitchen, called "the annex," where there may have been an outdoor eating area. The large stone piers that appear to have supported a pergola over it are now part of the walls of this addition, which is currently used for museum education programs.
Stickley liked to call himself an architect, but he is not known to have had formal training. He may have designed the log house as an expression of the Craftsman philosophy, but he did not fully understand the techniques of log construction. Over the years the tremendous weight of the tile roof compacted the horizontal logs and weakened the structure. In 1995 extensive structural repairs were done to stabilize the building and the roof tiles were repaired or replaced. Today steel rods hidden in the logs extend from the tile roof to the concrete footings in the basement, removing the weight from the walls.
The log house of Craftsman Farms, inside and out, singularly proclaims the romance of our nation’s agrarian past. Although large, it is firmly rooted in the ideals and dreams of a simpler age. Even as he sought to advance the fresh ideas of the new century in an increasingly urban world, Gustav Stickley sought his own happiness by returning to the land.
Perhaps that is why Craftsman Farms speaks to us today. It still serves as the philosophical ideal of the home, as we, like Stickley, seek a future related to a less complicated past.
Sources for this article include The Craftsman magazine, The Log House at Craftsman Farms: Historic Structures Report, July 1993, by Heritage Studies (principle, Connie Grieff) and the thoughts of Mark Allan Hewitt, AIA.
21 January 2017
The Stickley Museum
at Craftsman Farms
2352 Route 10 West
Morris Plains, NJ 07950