Tropical Storm Isaias

On Tuesday, August 4, Tropical Storm Isaias brought significant and unanticipated destruction across New Jersey. In the early afternoon, high winds ripped through Craftsman Farms and brought down a massive tree onto the Log House Annex, which, since 2008, has served as the museum’s educational program space. This space, which was to become the museum’s shop, after the forthcoming opening of our new Education Center, was an open-air pavilion in the Stickley-era, and was later turned into apartments and then a multi-use museum facility.

As soon as the Annex could be safely accessed, the museum’s staff, with assistance from the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township building department and the Mt. Tabor Fire Department, began to assess and mitigate the damage. While, thankfully, the Log House and the museum’s collections were unharmed, the damage to the Annex was severe. Over the next week, the museum will be focused on safeguarding the historic fabric of this building, while assessing its future.

With the help of insurance, the Annex will be rebuilt, but the task ahead presents steep new challenges to the museum in a year already riddled with uncertainty. Throughout the pandemic, though the Log House’s doors have been closed for tours, the museum has been focused on staying “open” virtually. The museum’s online educational opportunities have offered a meaningful way to remain vital and fulfill the museum’s mission, while generating much needed operational income. Since early April, we have offered nineteen online class sessions, on a wide variety of Arts and Crafts topics, produced an online exhibition about Gustav Stickley’s early factory and presented five Members-only programs–with two more to come–including virtual tours and a visit to Bruce Johnson’s workshop. In addition, we have produced weekly e-newsletters and increased our in-depth social media content. While it will be our goal to continue with this work and find creative ways to engage with our nationwide audience, support is needed to ensure our ability to do that.

Executive Director’s Message on Tropical Storm Isaias:

The destruction of Tropical Storm Isaias, for me, brought to mind the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy and devastating tornados in my rural hometown in middle Tennessee.

As the storm’s winds tore through Craftsman Farms on August 4, from my office window, I saw branches and debris blowing wildly across the property. Then, before I could fully comprehend what was happening, the abrupt silence of a total power outage descended. The next chaotic hours were a blur of confusion, distress and gratitude as help arrived on the property. It was a day I can hardly remember but also a day I will never forget.

I have worked full-time at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms for twelve years–for the past seven years as the executive director. Particularly during the past seven years, as I adapted to a new role, Craftsman Farms became a second home to me. I have spent countless hours here and with that is born a particular kind of intimacy. For me, it is a fringe benefit of this work. Authentic places like Craftsman Farms–places born out of one individual’s passion–have a way of rooting in your heart. And while, yes, it is my job to protect and preserve this property, it is also my privilege. This sudden and violent destruction has been both hard to grasp and heartbreaking.

Since Gustav Stickley founded this property, and shaped it into his utopian vision, Craftsman Farms has endured. Over more than one hundred years, through the efforts of determined stewards, it has survived upheaval, fires, threats of development, hurricanes, blizzards, floods and more. The demolished Annex presents an all new threat to this property. While daunting, I know that nature’s destructive storms are often accompanied by a period of rejuvenation and renewal. In the coming weeks, I will be looking for this “silver lining” to the dark clouds of Tropical Storm Isaias. I invite you to look with me. I also invite you to join me as a steward of Craftsman Farms. Join the museum’s Board of Trustees, our volunteer team and staff, as we work to ensure the future of this property and its enjoyment by generations to come.

How can you join us in this effort?

Like most non-profits facing a year of uncertainty, financial support is needed. You can help in these ways:

  • Take an online a class. [learn more]
  • Become a member. Take advantage of our Trustees’ New Member Match by RSVPing for one of our August Members-Only Programs. Already a Member? Buy a gift membership for a friend. [learn more]
  • Become a monthly giver. Monthly gifts help ensure steady operational income. [contact]
  • Give to the Annual Fund. Even small gifts are meaningful for small organizations. [learn more]
  • Consider sponsorship of a Members-Only program. [contact]

If your financial resources are limited, you can also help by:

  • Sharing our eblasts.
  • Inviting your friends to take classes.
  • Liking and sharing the museum’s social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • Making the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms your preferred charity on AmazonSmile.

Published by Kristen McCauley

Senior Manager of Education and Interpretation The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

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