The Onondaga Historical Association is delighted to be able to display this exquisite example of Gustav Stickley’s world-renown “Craftsman” style furniture (photo, left), which is currently on loan from The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.
Born in Wisconsin to German immigrants in 1858, Gustav Stickley spent many years in Central New York (he is buried in Oakwood Cemetery). He started his first furniture shop, with his brothers, in Binghamton, New York in 1884. He opened his own factory in Syracuse in 1899. In 1900, he moved into D. Edgar Crouse’s stable across from Fayette Park in Syracuse. Here, he pioneered the Craftsman style and published The Craftsman magazine. Stickley’s work was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement, which began in the 1880’s. Proponents of this new style eschewed the ornate designs and decorative machine made furniture of the Victorian period, in favor of more hand-crafted, utilitarian pieces of what Stickley called “sturdy and primitive forms.”
The beautiful piece on display as you enter the Onondaga Historical Museum at 321 Montgomery Street is known as a “settle.” According to Dr. Thomas Guiler of Winterthur Museum, a Settle is a rather “large bench with high, solid back; arms; and wings” designed to evoke a medieval aesthetic, a major aspect of Stickley’s ethos. They would typically accommodate three to four people. These settles were often placed in entryways and hallways of homes as a place to sit down upon entering for a moment’s rest or to remove and/or put on ones shoes. This particular Inglenook Settle is made from oak, as were most of Stickley’s pieces. It was designed and crafted after the fire at Stickley’s Columbus Avenue home in 1901. The renovation and redesign he undertook in the wake of the fire is considered the first Craftsmen style interior in America and this Inglenook Settle was a center piece of that effort. The Craftsman architectural style became incredibly popular nationally in the early 20th century and there are many fine examples in Syracuse and across Central New York.
You can view the Inglenook Settle in our downtown museum, which is open Wednesday-Friday 10am-4pm & Saturday& Sunday 11-4. For more information on the Gustav Stickley House and its renovation, visit gustavstickleyhousefoundation.org.
 Mary Ann Smith, Gustav Stickley: The Craftsman, (Syracuse University Press: 1983), 21.
– Robert Searing, Associate Curator of History