Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stickley - Architect

My last posting alluded to Stickley’s architectural philosophy. Why I am talking about architecture in a furniture class? Primarily because it is a part of the Arts and Crafts movement that is so identified with Stickley. But another reason is that I started out wanting to become an architect and I just can’t resist the chance to talk about it.

Stickley believed that a house should be constructed in harmony with its landscape using local materials; should have an open floor plan; exposed structural elements; and, take advantage of natural light by keeping artificial light to a minimum. His philosophy had an enormous influence on Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs.

In the early 20th Century it was not uncommon to purchase a kit home via mail order from companies such as Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Aladdin. You could buy anything from a Queen Anne to a Craftsman Bungalow to a large farmhouse. Sears continued to sell kit homes up to the start of World War II. In total, Sears sold between 70,000 and 75,000 kit homes via mail order. Craftsman homes were very popular.

Sears “Modern Homes” catalog consisted of over 370 designs. The kits were shipped via boxcar and consisted of 10,000 to 30,000 pieces and came complete with a 75-page instruction book. Each piece was marked with a number to help facilitate assembly. And you thought making a mortise and tenon joint was hard. Here is a website that will help you identify if you have a kit home -

Stickley took advantage of this craze and published 221 house plans in his magazine, The Craftsman, starting in 1903 until the magazine’s demise in 1916. Like his furniture, a Stickley home had simplicity of design; quality of construction; natural finishes; and exposed structural elements for decorative design. One of the plans, Craftsman Home No. 178, Gambrel Roof (a hipped roof like you might see on a barn – one with two angles) and Wide Dormers is illustrated.

1 comment:

Squerl said...

I used to live in a Gambrel roofed house in Bay Head New Jersey. It was the most beautiful house I ever lived in. Anyone who has never been inside one of these wonderful 100plus year old wooden houses should try to find a home tour. It will blow your mind how much more pleasant and practical an "old fashioned house," is compared to the typical California tract home.