During the six years they lived at Craftsman Farms, the Stickley family hosted weddings, dances, parties and other occasions with many guests; the girls’ threw lively dances often inviting friends from out of town, Stickley’s daughters had their weddings on the property, among other events and gatherings. Now, we have a new clue as to how these soirées took place.
In 1971, Arts and Crafts scholar, Robert Judson Clark interviewed Barbara Wiles, Gustav Stickley’s daughter. Barbara told him her father had the factory make a collapsible table to be used during social events or any time a large number of people were dining in the log house. The tabletops were likely oak planks, butted together like a typical Craftsman tabletop, but they were supported on elegant Craftsman saw horses. During a visit to Craftsman Farms at around the same time, Clark found a pair of those saw horses still present, and acquired them from the Farnys, who owned the Farms at the time. They supported his desk for the next twenty years before he sold them to distinguished Stickley scholar, David Cathers, who for the past twenty-one years used them to support his desk. Now, wanting to share these unique pieces with others, Cathers had new supports made for his desk and he and his wife Susan kindly donated the pair to the Farms.
The saw horses represent a form traditionally reserved for the carpenter’s workshop; a straight long bar supported by four canted legs joined by an “H” stretcher. Here, Stickley has cleverly adapted this common form into beautiful and unique pieces of furniture for his home. The tenons on each saw horse come through the legs at an unusual angle to compensate for the slant of the A-frame and the keys are elongated and visible, emphasizing its structural qualities. They are held together at the top with metal fasteners, presumably so they could be readily disassembled and put away until they were needed next, and are finished in a mellow medium brown. They are unique examples of Craftsman furniture made specifically for Craftsman Farms, and according to experts, are the only known Craftsman saw horses in existence.
Now, once again residing where they did 100 years ago, these saw horses offer some additional insight into the Stickley family’s social life at Craftsman Farms, how they lived and entertained, and the many parties, dinners, dances, and weddings that the family hosted while they lived here.
The saw horses will be on view at The Stickley Museum in the future. Please watch for the announcement.