When ever I mention my appreciation for arts & crafts to someone, I often get an odd look. I immediately imagine a bubble forming over their head with an image of an animal made out of pipe cleaners, a birdhouse made with Popsicle sticks, or a fabric-painted cartoon sweatshirt. Mmm.. …no.
An odd thing is that I get this confused reaction more from the people I know in Central New York than in any other place where I mention it. Little do most CNYers realize, with Stickley Furniture, Robineau Pottery, and the architectural practice of Ward Wellington Ward, their home was once a cultural center with a great number of individuals focused on the Arts & Crafts movement. In addition to these local purveyors of the movement, many local patrons worked with people from other parts of the country and masterworks from people like John LaFarge, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright and countless others dot the Upstate NY landscape.
Obviously, the "Arts & Crafts" that I am talking about includes things like mortise and tenon joinery, natural wood, art glass, fine pottery. Since my fellow housebloggers detest this kind of stuff (ha ha), I apologize in advance for boring you with some pics.
Unfortunately, while in Buffalo, we did not get to visit many of my favorite Arts & Crafts landmarks there. I did do my ritualistic drive by all of the Silsbee homes there but that is about it. Incidentally, I am always prepared to drive by and find one torn down. Buffalo might have been a bust but I did have some time to do a bit of sightseeing while visiting Syracuse.
On our way into Syracuse, we stopped in to see the Willard Memorial Chapel. I have known about this place for some time but have not taken the time to see it. This is a perfect place to go touring with a 3 year old! (sarcasm). While I ogled at the art glass, fine lighting fixtures, exquisite tile and stencil work, my daughter danced around the chapel nave singing a song from one of her favorite TV shows. I thought it was hilarious. I am not sure that the other tourists felt the same.Supposedly this is the only intact Tiffany designed chapel. We have also visited the chapel designed for the Worlds Columbian Exposition, parts of which are on display in Winter Park, FL. This one is as nice and in some ways more impressive. It is a remarkable place (understatement) and a must see for anyone driving in the vicinity of Auburn, NY.
We stayed in Syracuse our final weekend of the vacation and on Saturday I took some time to visit the new Stickley museum. Holy crap this place was cool and it really surprised me. While growing up, the old Stickley factory was used as an outlet store for the company. I don’t exactly remember what shape it was in then but it has recently been converted into the Fayetteville Public Library. The second floor of the factory is now home to the Stickley Museum - Incredible!I was told that only about 10% of their collection was on view at the moment. It was great – an exhibit of furniture from 1901 through the present that included highlights like Gustav’s own personal bedroom set and pieces owned by Barbra Streisand. It showed me a lot that I didn’t know about the company and the various designs. Like the chapel, this too is well worth the trip to anyone that is in the area. I didn’t get the overdose of architectural sites I had hoped for but all in all, it was a nice vacation.