With 2023 on the horizon, we are looking ahead to a new day at Craftsman Farms. Next year, we will fully re-open, for the first time since March 2020, with a newly rebuilt Annex and restored Log House Kitchen (generously funded by the Twp of Parsippany-Troy Hills and the Preserve NJ Historic Preservation Fund).
We ask you to consider a year-end gift to support the museum’s work and daily operations, ensuring we will greet the new year fortified and ready to fulfill our mission. For inspiration, we turned to members of our Board of Trustees and asked why they support the museum. As we wrap up 2022, our “Trustee Spotlight” series will focus on their reflections about “what Craftsman Farms means to me.”
What Craftsman Farms Means to Me…
Trustee Ted Lytwyn
When I think about Craftsman Farms I smile. What a success story! Despite the crazy world events or things in my personal life causing stress, I can always calm myself with thoughts of the beauty and tranquility of Craftsman Farms. This is what drew my late wife, Cara and me to the Arts and Crafts lifestyle in the first place. Whether sitting on a settle in our living room or on a bench on the grounds of Craftsman Farms, we got a sense of peace and comfort.
Being involved in the salvation and restoration of the Stickley Museum and the Craftsman Farms campus has been a most rewarding aspect of my life. As the transformation of the site progresses, it’s like watching a dream unfold. And it’s a good dream! As a Charter Member, I’ve watched the main house be stabilized, restored and furnished, the grounds brought back to a place of beauty, the construction of the new Education Center, the opening of the North Cottage with the rare green ash furniture, and now the Log House kitchen restoration and Annex rehabilitation. That’s just mentioning a few things. How truly exciting. That’s why I smile.
One more thing. I’m also enjoying being a part of our growing community centered around the Saturday classes. What a great way it’s been to learn while being entertained as well.
Ted Lytwyn, Vice President
Current Trustee for 4 years and Charter Member
Short Hills, NJ
Trustee W. Michael McCracken
Craftsman Farms was an original design of an ideal Arts and Crafts residence. Gustav Stickley’s other home in Syracuse was made into an Arts and Crafts residence by modifying the interior of an otherwise non-descript house. Craftsman Farms as an extension of Gustav Stickley’s vision of the American Arts and Crafts movement is therefore a treasure to be preserved, just as Frank Lloyd Wright’s residences have been preserved.
The pioneering work by a few people who prevented Craftsman Farms from becoming an obstacle to development and therefore would likely not be preserved should be heralded as a preservation victory. That pioneering spirit has continued to today with volunteers at the forefront of promoting, protecting, and continuing the legacy of Gustav Stickley.
Even with the surge in popularity of the American Arts and Crafts movement in the 1990s, without the sustained support of many people, it is likely that Craftsman Farms could have become an after-thought or worse an obstacle to development, by those who picture real estate as a valuable commodity based upon how many residences can be erected per square foot of land.
I feel honored to be among those who seek to preserve Craftsman Farms and the legacy of Gustav Stickley, and I hope that any of you who read this short note will join the Craftsman Farms team by donating time, knowledge, or money to keeping the memory of Gustav Stickley alive.
W. Michael McCracken
Trustee for 3 years
Trustee Dianne Ayres
Craftsman Farms has a special place in my heart. Having grown up on a small farm in Indiana—we had a large vegetable garden and raised horses, hay, and cats!—I greatly appreciate having a childhood full of wonderful memories of the outdoors and all the work it takes to keep a farm running. While it never came to fruition, Gustav Stickley’s aspiration to give these opportunities to city children was laudable.
Where Gustav did excel was his ambition to help people create a cheerful, comfortable home environment, and it is this aspect that I have carried on as my life’s work. As a child, when not playing outside, I spent endless hours with my grandmother in her sewing room and learned the drapery trade. Upon learning about the Arts and Crafts Movement, I apprenticed myself through the pages of The Craftsman magazine and other publications of the period to learn the unique style of textiles which, in Gustav’s words, “Harmonize with and Complete the Craftsman Decorative Scheme” (from Craftsman Homes, 1909). Craftsman Farms is a premiere example of the cheerful, comfortable friendly home which Gustav Stickley, I, and most likely you, desire.
Having been a member for many years and watching the great progress made in restoring Craftsman Farms, it is an honor to now serve as a Trustee. I hope you will join me in supporting Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms to carry on the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Trustee for 1 year
Trustee Frank Giebfried
Our family volunteered for our first event at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms when my daughter Oivia was five years old. That morning, she was very excited to not just attend Fall Family Day, but also to help set up. As we blew up balloons, then Education Director Vonda Givens asked Olivia if she would rather play with some of the other kids. “No,” said Olivia, “I’m here to help!” Since then, she’s volunteered at many of the wonderful events at the Farms, including our annual gala.
Craftsman Farms has helped Olivia grow into the generous, community-minded college sophomore that she is today. She continues to look forward to each new day when she can volunteer at the Farms and see friends old and new.
In the same way I’ve watched my daughter grow, I’ve also seen Craftsman Farms grow. Each new day brings change. The 1912 garage, which suffered a fire in the 1950s, was rehabilitated on its original stone foundation and is now our Education Center.
Rooms in the Log House have been restored, the fireplace hoods are being restored, buildings have been stabilized, stone pillars have been rebuilt. New acquisitions have been made to further interpret the Stickley family’s time at the property. During Covid, online classes were developed by Jonathan Clancy that have brought Farms’ family members together from across the country (and Canada too!).
The next new day that will dawn at Craftsman Farms will be in 2023, with the completion of the Annex and Log House Kitchen restoration after a terrible storm. The Annex will be our new Visitor Pavilion and Craftsman Shop and will reflect the open-air dining pavilion the Stickleys enjoyed. The kitchen will be restored to its Stickley era floor plan and interior. Who would have thought that a tree falling on the Annex would have been a good thing?!
So I hope you’ll join us as a new day dawns at the Farms. My wife and I will be there, and Olivia will be too!
Trustee for 4 years
Trustee Michelle LaConto Munn
I discovered the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms shortly after moving nearby in Parsippany, NJ in 1995. With my husband and I both being designers, we were attracted to all elements of the Arts and Crafts movement. Its close proximity meant that I was able to keep tabs as the Farms evolved. Whenever out-of-town visitors came, we brought them to see this cool local historic site. I remember touring the Log House when the interior walls were still painted white.
My family has been able to celebrate the progress of the Log House as it was restored and participate in programming over the years. As I grew more involved with my local historical society and the stewardship of its own house museum, I earned a certificate in historic preservation. My eyes were opened to what a treasure we have in this National Landmark. Craftsman Farms became more than a local attraction. It serves as a wonderful resource and a model for historic preservation for our historical society. The Stickley Museum is a great partner in promoting local history to our community and serving on the Board of Trustees with such dedicated members has been a true honor. Historic preservation is a passion, and it is a delight to find an organization who shares this passion and takes such great care of this Stickley legacy.
Michelle LaConto Munn
Trustee for 2 years
Mount Tabor, NJ
Trustee Cynthia G. McGinn, MD
Craftsman Farms to me means family.
When I walk the grounds and interior of Craftsman Farms I feel the presence of my Great Grandfather Gustav, my Grandmother Mildred (pictured below feeding the chickens at Craftsman Farms), and my mother Ruth. I feel their presence as the people they were, more than the buildings or a piece of furniture. And I thank Gustav every time for the gift he left for all of us to enjoy.
I am lucky to have learned about Craftsman Farms through my grandmother Mildred, and the North Cottage for me is the place where Mildred and her husband George started their family with Ruth, my mother. They lived there for 2 years until the family left in 1918.
I still have the wicker bassinet that was made for my mother when she was born in 1916, and it has been used for every generation in our family since.
So rather than dwell on the magnificence of his achievements at Craftsman Farms, I try to see the man who had the vision to create this incredible setting. I am fortunate to have several letters from my grandmother that Gustav wrote to Mildred and Ruth during the difficult years after his bankruptcy. Through these letters you can feel his pain, his humbleness, his love, and his stubborn optimism that kept him alive. I treasure these letters in his own hand, and feel honored to know him for his weaknesses as well as his grand achievements. It makes me happy to know that his years at Craftsman Farms were truly his best. I am honored to be involved as a Trustee of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms to help ensure that his work and his dreams will never end.
Cynthia G. McGinn, MD
Trustee for 8 years