The Living Room

Writing in The Craftsman in November 1911, Natalie Curtis found the Living Room of the Log House at Craftsman Farms captivating, and described what many would feel in the ensuing years as they moved from the front porch into the house:

We pause on the threshold, stirred by a dim feeling of the Long Ago.  There is something nobly barbaric in the massive rough-hewn posts supporting the stout beams overhead, the two great hearths with their copper hoods, the crude beauty of the natural wood and glint of color in the dull orange hangings.  From the bare and primitive structure we might fancy ourselves in some tribal hall on the Rhine in the early days of Germanic history; we could imagine Wappen, shields and lances, hanging from the great posts; we think involuntarily of the sagas of the North, of the "Neibelungen Lied" and of the poems of William Morris. 

While the magazine may have wanted to herald this space as a reflection of Teutonic glory, the reality was more nuanced.  The photographs of the Log House taken during Stickley's residence tell a complicated story and demonstrate a richly layered visual world world, which defies easy classification.  Since the founding of the museum, the focus has been–understandably–on the furniture, textiles, and metalwork Stickley made and placed in the house, although it was broadened to include pieces that were similarly recognized as manufactured by Arts and Crafts luminaries like Grueby Pottery.  It is, in the context of the revived attention the American Arts and Crafts movement has received since the 1970s, what visitors have come to expect.  And yet the broader story of Stickley's tastes is, in many ways, more illuminating: his interiors and possessions demonstrate a breadth of interests that transcends the narrow confines of the Arts and Crafts movement.  As the photographs reveal, his fondness for Art Nouveau, elements of classicism, and lingering Victorian sensibilities paint a richer picture of the visual ecosystem through which he and his family voyaged daily.   

The Living Room from the north end, ca. 1913-17.

Below, the long view of the Living Room is one of the few photographs we have that documents the space during Stickley's time.  Unlike the photographs published in The Craftsman in 1911, this was taken during the period that the family occupied the space and is telling in that regard.  Curiously, while the lighting fixtures are all in place, and the arrangement of some pieces of the furniture are different, there are still elements that we are accustomed to seeing that are not present,  like the firescreens.  

Standing in front of the fireplace at the north end of the Living Room and looking into the Dining Room, a few more details of the Log House in Stickley's time become evident.  Of particular interest is the small rug in front of the doorway, as it was made by Helen R. Albee and originally was placed outside the auditorium doors in Stickley's Craftsman Building in Syracuse.  In addition, various pieces of metalwork and ceramics, as well as one of the hall seats that originally flanked the doors to the kitchen are known only through this image. 

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