Saturday, March 25, 2006

Who is this guy? And what's with the goofy bow tie?

Have you ever heard of Gustav Stickley? I hadn't. At least not up until 2003.

As I was searching through for houses, I found one for sale in Irvington that mentioned him as the designer. Most new houses today don't provide you with the name of the architect in the listing. Mainly because most new houses today are probably designed by guys named Steve or Bob and look like this stunning architectural marvel: The Oak. I'm guessing that more time is spent trying to come up cheesy names for the design rather than the actual design plans themselves. Oops....I'm on my soap box. Moving on......

Emily was finishing her master's in Historic Preservation and Restoration Architecture at Ball State University (MSHP Program). I called her on her cell and asked if she had ever heard of Stickley. She had. And when I explained to her why I was asking, it all went down hill from there. For those of you that haven't heard of him, here's a brief bio of Gus, courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica:

Gustav Stickley
born March 9, 1858, Osceola, Wis., U.S.
died April 21, 1942, Syracuse, N.Y.

U.S. furniture designer and maker who largely created what came to be known as the Mission style.

Stickley learned basic furniture-making skills in a Pennsylvania chair factory owned by an uncle. After a time he took over the factory and in 1884 moved it to Binghamton, N.Y. He experimented briefly with designs in the fashionable Art Nouveau mode before introducing, about 1900, a new line of sturdy oak furniture whose virtues of simplicity, functionality, and soundness of construction were for Stickley an expression of democratic values. He established the Craftsman Workshops in Syracuse in 1901 and began publishing the monthly magazine The Craftsman to carry his ideas and designs to a wider audience. Although he owed something to the British Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley was a highly original designer who applied his ideas not only to furniture but to decorative accessories of all kinds. One of the most popular features of The Craftsman was a series of house designs intended to suit modest incomes.

The popularity of Craftsman furniture waned after a decade and a half, and in 1916 Stickley ceased publishing his magazine and gave up his bankrupt workshops to two younger brothers, who continued for a time to produce furniture from his designs. Two other brothers had for some time produced similar furniture under the name L. and J.G. Stickley, and numerous other imitators had capitalized on his work as well.

"Stickley, Gustav." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006.
Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 25 Mar. 2006

I have to admit, there was nothing about the online photos that made me even want to see the place in person. It looked like the kind of place that parents told their children to pass over on Halloween. But that didn't stop us. We set out on a "drive by" in the hopes that whatever we found would make us happy we still lived in an apartment. Posted by Picasa


Greg said...

Agh! So where the heck is the picture of the house! I lovee Stickley funiture but I've never seen a house designed by him.

Brian said...

Check out my latest post.

Avery said...

While it seems like the mirror image of the house they should have built there, "The Oak" isn't nearly as much of an abomination as is out there.

Replacing that pillar by the door with a 4x4 would be a big step in the "Dear God what were they thinking?" direction.