Visit: The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

by Cate on September 12, 2013

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We still have just over a week until summer is “officially” over, and we’re busy focusing on finishing off our Summer Bucket List. We won’t get to everything, and that’s perfect because that’s totally the point. The idea behind the list is more to give us a jumping off point for summer fun and frivolity. We have several items that we plan to cross off this weekend, but in the meantime, last week we took care of the “museum” entry.

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Whenever The Ex and I were househunting, which was a total of three times during our marriage, I always kept an eye out for two kinds of homes: Craftsman-style homes, and other style homes that had stone as their primary exterior material (because I have a healthy fear of house fires, and I also happen to like the way they look). And, unfortunately, none of the three homes that we owned fit either of these two criteria.

There is something about a Craftsman-style house that just exudes the word home. From the ceiling beams and wood detailing throughout, to the giant fireplaces and mantles, it is everything I want in a home. One day, maybe it will happen. Unfortunately, not likely in this area. But in the meantime? I will just daydream.

The next best thing? Visiting The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. In 1908, Gustav Stickley, the genius behind the arts-and-crafts/craftsman style purchased huge tracts of land in Morris Plains, to set down new roots for his large family (six kids). With over 30 acres on his “country estate,” his dreams were fulfilled with its beautiful rose garden, cow pasture, separate smaller homes for his daughters, and more. Unfortunately, the rapid expansion of his brand, and going off in too many different directions eventually led to bankruptcy and a far different ending than the beginning of his story, but his aesthetic certainly lives on in furniture and homes across the world.

So you can’t be completely surprised that when a LivingSocial popped up to visit The Stickley Museum for $8, I jumped on it. Although we have lived reasonably close to the museum for, um, over 11 years, I had never been. One of Nick’s favorite channels is HGTV, specifically all the real estate and architecture shows they broadcast. I wouldn’t be surprised if he became an architect. And Madeline? Well, she’s always game for anything. A gorgeous summer afternoon, and two curious kids, made for a perfect outing.

Super easy to find right off Route 10, there is ample parking in an adjoining lot to the main property. A quick walk down the path, and we entered through the gift shop. Of course. (We later found out, after our tour, that the gift shop was the home’s original kitchen)

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The museum staff runs guided tours every hour from 12:15 pm to 3:15, Thursday through Sunday. The tour lasts for one hour, which was just about perfect. When we arrived, we ended up being the only people at that particular time (random Friday afternoon), but the tour after us had a larger group. Our guide was awesome. She knew the property and Gustav’s life story like the back of her hand, and since it was just us on the tour, the kids asked a million questions. Not in an annoying way, but in a we’re-totally-paying-attention kind of way. Which is my favorite way ever. When we started out, she also gave the kids a piece of paper that was a scavenger hunt of sorts, pictures of items we would see on the tour, and then she gave them a star as they pointed out where the items were. Such a wonderful way to keep kids busy and entertained.

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We started on the outside of the property, where we saw where Gustav’s treasured rose garden had been (the large grassy area in the first picture at the top), and where the cow pasture was (Madeline was quite disappointed to find out that there were no more cows), and then entered the main house. Every room is painstakingly maintained, and I would totally move in in a heart beat. Gustav was very much ahead of his time, and his design for this home included large open rooms on the main floor, something that wasn’t very common back then. A cozy living room, huge enclosed porch, a separate area set aside for conversations with smaller groups … just all perfect.

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A large, sunny dining room, and then the climb to the bedrooms upstairs. A lot of the family’s original belongings (furniture and hair brush, for example) are still in the home, and it was quite inspiring to remember a time when iPods and hundreds of tv channels weren’t at the ready. The tour concluded in the kitchen. A huge, amazing, kitchen.

The staff was friendly and so pleasant, and loved having visitors. Although the LivingSocial deal is done, the cost for visits is small, and it’s definitely worth going (and they’re open year ’round). If you happen to be or live in the area, or need something to do one afternoon, do check it out. Also be sure to check out their calendar of events (free admission on 9/28, for example), because they do many fun things during the year.

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And with that, we’re done for the week. Have an awesome weekend! xo

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
2352 Route 10 West
Morris Plains, New Jersey 07950

*Picture taking was not permitted inside the home, but if you look at their twitter account, that background picture is the living room area.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joanne September 13, 2013 at 6:19 am

I’m pretty sure my mom’s dining room set is a Stickley. She and my dad had gotten it at a garage sale years ago and obviously the people who sold it had no idea what it was worth! I bet she’d love going to this museum…
Joanne recently posted..Pink Lemonade Bars

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