Mapping the Landscape of Craftsman Farms

Craftsman Farms is a recent phenomenon, amongst the latest features of a landscape whose history of habitation stretches back hundreds, and quite possibly thousands of years.  The earliest evidence of people living on the site was uncovered in December 2017 when two prehistoric stone artifacts were found during an exploratory excavation to the South of the Log House.  Probably crafted by the Leni Lenape people, these arrowheads remind us that we are simply the latest residents on parcels of land that have long histories of use and habitation.     

At the heart of Craftsman Farms in Stickley's time, and still today, was a large parcel of land that had belonged to Jonathan Hathaway and which stretched from Route 53 at the east, was defined by Route 10 at its southern border, extended past the cow barn on its western edge, and extended north almost to Powder Mill Pond (now Tabor Lake).  The Hathaways could trace their occupation of the site back three generations, beginning with Jonathan Hathaway (1738-1814) who owned a forge located somewhere between his residence and the town of Morris Plains.  He was evidently quite successful as his son, also Jonathan Hathaway (1773-after 1850), "inherited a goodly number of dollars and a small farm" upon his death and continued the family's homestead.  This second Hathaway was a prosperous doctor and dentist remembered as a successful businessman whose practice included the selling of salves, ointments, and medicines.  Little survives of his influence on the property, and his personality is even more opaque with the passage of time.  Apparently a kind man though, Joseph Percy Crayon in Rockaway Records of Morris County N. J. Families (1902) memorialized him this way: "If ever a doctor or dentist, for he was both, delighted in the pulling of teeth for a small consideration it was Dr. Hathaway.  In this line he became famous, the suffering humanity who be came nearly distracted by a troublesome molar, would travel miles in the dead of night for relief..."

His son, the final Jonathan Hathaway on the property, occupied the homestead into the 1870s, and it changed hands a number of times before Stickley's purchase in 1908.  As late as 1902, the original home was still standing on the property, probably to the west of the Cow Barn.  Describing the landscape, Crayon noted:

The Old Hathaway Mansion is now very much delapidated.  The clearings made over one hundred and fifty years ago are battling against the supremacy of weeds, briar, brush and timber.  The property after three generations of Jonathan Hathaway's changed owners years ago, and but few now know, or have ever heard of its original owners, who formed a part of this ancient history. 

Stickley's arrival to the property and creation of Craftsman Farms in 1908 was as much a rehabilitation of the lands' original purposes as it was a showcase for his Craftsman philosophy.  Yet, the emphasis–in both Stickley's time and even today–has been on the notion of this land as his property at the expense of better understanding how previous occupation shaped his endeavor.  From fields, to roads, to buildings, Stickley inherited the legacy of previous ownership and the patterns of use they had established rather than creating a landscape from nothing.   Unfortunately, much of the evidence of those  previous occupations has been excised from the plots he assembled, through subsequent sales, development, and subsequent building campaigns.   What we can learn about Craftsman Farms circa 1917 then, relies upon historic maps and photographs, written accounts of the site, and archaeological exploration.

Of particular interest to the property's history and documenting the extent of Stickley's work at Craftsman Farms are two property surveys that have only recently received the attention they deserve.  The first, attached to the back of the sale of the property to George and Sylvia Farny in 1917 was apparently done at Stickley's behest and is interesting mainly because it shows the extent of the property including land that is non-contiguous.  Initialed in the lower left-hand corner by Stickley and his wife Eda, the survey is both wonderful and frustrating, capturing a moment in history but lacking sufficient details, landmarks, and giving only the brieifest indication of the buildings present.  The second survey, completed in August 1917 at the behest of George Farny is far more complete, though the text "Note: Buildings shown, appromiately located" hints at its limitations.  Because neither of these surveys is without problems, nor do they speak of the land use in the period, we have combined the data into a single map to show the extent of Craftsman Farms.  Taking additional data from the aerial photographs, surviving images of the property, and descriptions in The Craftsman, the map above is intended to show, in a general way, how the property was used and to give a sense of the scale of Stickley's ambitions. 

Craftsman Farms, as laid out by 1917, was a blend of domestic landscapes, agricultural spaces, forest, and a ravine that Stickley called "Woodthrush Glen."  In broad terms, we might think of these types in the following ways:

  1. Domestic Landscapes. These are the connecting areas between and around the residential core of the property that contains the Log House and the cottages.  Typically, they have some sort of artificial boundary (either actual or implied) like a road, a hedge, or a fence line.  
  2. Agricultural Spaces.  These are either planted, like in the case of the orchards and vineyards, or open meadows for the grazing of livestock.  While they may feature a man-made boundary along the edges where they meet domestic landscapes, they tend to be defined on other edges by natural features such as the start of the forest.
  3. Woodthrush Glen.   Falling somewhere between the wilds of the forest and the cultivated domestic landscape, Woodthrush Glen provided the family a means to connect with and experience a deeper sense nature in a civilized means.  Siting the Log House next to this feature provided relatively easy access to the central stream, older growth tree stands, and the unique vegetation that flourished along the banks.   
  4. Forest.  Despite its size and the amount of buildings present in the landscape, more than half of the property Stickley developed remained forests that could be used not only as a buffer that preserved the natural viewshed of the reseidential core, but could also be managed for timber cultivation and production.  

Each of these types had different mandates and functions, which are reflected in the manner that they were treated.  

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