A Craftsman Farms Family Album

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then Heather Stivison’s new book Craftsman Farms is worth exactly 200,000 words.

Actually, its worth more than that, for the former executive director of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms has uncovered and collected for us more than 200 photographs of the Gustav Stickley family during the seven years they spent at the Farms, as well as the Farny family who followed them in 1917, and the concerned volunteers who saved the Farms beginning in 1985. And just as you would expect from Heather Stivison, she has applied her finely-tuned organizational skills to this project, making this book a delight to read.

And it does read like a family photo album, branching out to include not just the original Stickley family, but the new, extended and ever-growing family of Craftsman Farms supporters.

But perhaps the most insightful photographs in the book are those of the children of Gus and Edna Stickley. Uprooted from their Syracuse home and moved to a farm in New Jersey in 1911, the five teenagers (eldest Barbara, 23, had already left home) are shown doing chores, dancing on the lawn, preparing for parties (one had 60 guests), and, years later, dressed in wedding gowns and holding new babies. These photos remind us that the Craftsman Farms that we think of as a house museum was for several years a home to Gustav Stickley, his wife, and their six children.

And this is one of those books I like to read with a magnifying glass in my hand. It is published by Arcadia Publishing under their “Images of America” series, characterized by primarily being a collection of historic, black-and-white photographs, often four per two-page spread, with long, detailed and well-researched captions. The format makes it an easy to read book, and one that you can find even more details with each reading, especially if you keep that magnifying glass nearby, critical for picking out details nearly lost in the background clutter.

In short, this is a book anyone with even a passing interest in either Craftsman Farms or Gustav Stickley should have, for in it Heather Stivison has carefully documented the design, construction, and furnishing of the home, but then carries us into the lives of the people who lived there.

She truly does bring history to life.

– Bruce Johnson

Craftsman Farms by Heather E. Stivison

Published by Arcadia Publishing

ISBN: 9781467122054

Pages: 128

Price: $21.99

To Purchase (and help support the bookstore at the Stickley Museum): http://stickleymuseum.org/shop/our-books.html