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Family Album – Issue 43

Richmond, VA., Jeremy Rowan
In spite of a decade of neglect, this 1937 Spanish Mission style-stucco bungalow was a diamond in the rough. Built to last entirely from concrete, the house has a Spanish arcade of graceful arches topped by a terra-cotta roof. The interior features additional arches, linoleum tiles, built-ins throughout and stucco walls. The windows and Craftsman doors are handsomely tripped with Douglas fir. We’ve enhanced original features and replaced ones damaged or removed — period light fixtures, tile work, kitchen and bath fixtures, stained glass — and created a new eat-in booth in the kitchen. At Christmas we finished our glassed-in side porch, now a playroom for our new baby boy.

Pasadena, Calif., Timothy Roberts & Caroline Smith
Our 1920 Craftsman home had good “bones,” but the interior was hideous. Every room had been wallpapered in Victorian farmhouse style and the kitchen was virtually gutted. We are working to return the house to the condition that it was when new. Eliminating the paint from the woodwork is revealing the beautiful grain of the curly pine of the built-ins and moldings. New kitchen cabinets match the other built-ins. A ceramic artist’s custom Batchelder-style fireplace replaces the damaged original salt-and-pepper brick. It is a long, slow process, but we are enjoying every step that returns our home to its gracious original state.

Salem, Ore., Kathy Schutt and Steve Oulman
We are 10 years into our five-year restoration plan for our 1920 bungalow — and loving every day. We believe we have a kit house, but haven’t yet determined the original manufacturer. we stripped the entire exterior by hand, replainted with a more period color scheme and replaced the lawn with xeriscaping and an organic garden. We’ve restored original woodwork and “fixed” a previous kitchen remodel. Like all projects there have been surprises, but non like finding an English-language Latvian newspaper crumpled inside basement walls. It’s been an adventure!

West Jefferson, N.C., Bill and Ginny Tobiassen
Built in 1908 by prolific local architect Emil Schacht, our home has been described as a large Craftsman-stule bungalow, although it may not neatly fit this classification. It features river rock fireplaces with Rookwood tile, old-growth fir paneling in the library and dining room (with box beam ceilings), mahogany paneling in the living room, many built-ins and window seats, oak floors with mahogany inlays and fir floors. It is located on a beautiful expansive lot with towering mature maples, conifers and beech trees — an urban getaway. Currently we are removing paint from interior woodwork and hanging beautiful Arts and Crafts wallpaper. A continuing labor of love!

Wyoming, Mich., Dan and Jennifer Smith
Our American Foursquare home is located on the upper westside of Helena, an area with many fine bungalows and older homes. We discovered our house was built in 1915 during renovations to our dining room, when we removed a piece of wall trip signed and dated by one of the builders. Our home has large rooms, maple floors, leaded glass windows, an abundance of dark fir trip and a beautiful pair of built-in quartersawn oak china hutches. Since buying the home in 1999, we’ve spent many hours learning about Craftsman homes and renovating, furnishing and landscaping our house.

Petaluma, Calif., Steve and Judy Collins
Our 2,700-square-foot Craftsman-style home was built in 1921 on what was then a chicken ranch. Thankfully, when we bought it in 1980 it had not been butchered with add-ons. After repairs, upgrades and converting a bedroom into a second full bath, we tackled baring the previously painted Douglas fir woodwork. In 1996 our home was featured locally as a Heritage Home. Recently we built a matching detached garage and upgraded the living room fireplace with Batchelder tiles. We are only the second family on record to own this property and it is our hope that it will stay in our family for generations.

Bellevue, Pa., Theresa Gallick
My two-story bungalow just outside Pittsburgh shows Swiss Chalet influences, with diamond-paned original windows throughout and decorative balconies on the second floor. Built in 1913, the house features six tiled fireplaces, many built-ins, an inglenook and an impressive box-beam ceiling. Unfortunately, when I purchased the home in 2000, the kitchen and bathroom were ghastly, but ideas from American Bungalow inspired revamping of the kitchen. This year’s projects focused on the home’s exterior and gardens. I hope to tackle the ’60s bathroom next year.

Holland, Mich., Ron and Deb Kooistra
In the two years we spent planning and building a new home we referred to your magazine many times. In an Arts and Crafts home plan book we found the bungalow design to fit our budget and our lot — we wanted our home to be very different than the “cookie cutters” in our area. Everything from our windows and hardwood floors to paint colors and wood interior doors to our replica fireplace was picked for their Arts and Crafts look. Our beautiful bungalow looks small outside but has five bedrooms, four baths and 3,800 square feet inside.

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by David Cathers

Ed and Kathy Friedman live in Pittsburgh, Penn., in a residential neighborhood that, 90 years ago was at the end of a trolley line that carried commuters into the center of the city. As Ed says, the area was developed “as an experiment in ‘country living’ within easy reach of downtown.”

There are about eight variant versions of their house up and down the block, though most have been, in Ed’s word, “remuddled.” The Friedmans’ house is a classic, vernacular Arts and Crafts Foursquare constructed about 1915 by a well-known local builder/developer named Samuel McCaslin.

It is three stories tall and has a broad front porch, red brick exterior walls with three green Teco tiles set into the facade, Prairie-style wood trim, wide eaves and a red tile roof pierced by a dormer that faces the street.

Though handsome and substantial, the interior woodwork is a standard product, ordered by McCaslin from a catalog. Albert Tannler of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, who has led architectural history tour groups through the house, mentions the few Colonial Revival-influenced decorative flourishes to be seen in its interior. Then he points to the wood paneling, beamed ceilings, built-in furniture, glazed tile fireplaces and art-glass windows and identifies the strongest influence that shaped its design: the Craftsman houses by Gustav Stickley’s architects from the beginning of the 20th century.

Tannler’s insight is exactly right: when the Friedmans found this home in 1985, they bought it because they saw immediately that it would be the right environment for their collection of Gustav Stickley furniture. “The interior proportions,” says Ed, “fit the furniture perfectly.

“One brother ran the company, another designed the homes and the third oversaw construction,” architect Tim Shea, the owner of a low-slung Wild Rose bungalow with big, chunky porch pillars explains. “I don’t think they had formal architectural training, but they certainly had a passion for design.

“Close to 100 years ago the builders and craftsmen took responsibility for creating a high-quality home,” Tim continues, “which we can’t really replicate today for various reasons. Our home shows a lot of thoughtful design: the pyramid shape of the stone porch pillars and rock planters is repeated in the colonnade and the lights in the dining room.

Because Melinda and I are in the trade, we probably notice those details more than some people, but I think our visitors still get an overall sense of continuity.”

Touring the Collections

The Old Hickory furniture and the Greene and Greene-style lanterns on the Friedmans’ front porch are hints of what’s inside. In the entrance hall, there are cushioned built-in seats on both sides of a wood-framed, green-tile fireplace; this is the first of the five fireplaces found in the house. The Arts and Crafts collection starts right here: a hammered copper Roycroft light fixture hangs from the ceiling, and a copper and wicker Stickley table lamp is tucked unobtrusively at the foot of the stairs.

The art collection starts here too. The painting above the mantelpiece depicts bathers in an idyllic landscape. It is a “nocturne” (a work of art dealing with evening) by Christian Walter, an early-20th-century landscape painter remembered as the dean of Pittsburgh art teachers, and one of the artists the Friedmans collect. In his book Art Across America, William Gerdtz praises Walter as a unique Impressionist with an unparalleled gift for capturing the quality of western Pennsylvania sunlight, “seen through a smoky industrial haze.”

Step through an opening between Stickley-like post-and-panel partitions and you have left the entrance hall and are now in the living room. Here is a fireplace faced with matte green Grueby-like tiles, flanked by built-in bookcases with a big and very useful built-in desk nearby.

In addition, there is a considerable amount of expressed wooden structure here, all of it stained the color of mahogany to give this space its formal mien. Every piece of furniture is rare, early Stickley; perhaps the rarest is the small, flower-shaped “Celandine” tea table in front of the fireplace. The table lamps were made in Stickley’s metal shop and they are all exceedingly rare.

The Friedmans’ taste for local artists is also evident in this room. The picture over the fireplace is by the Pittsburgh painter Will Hyette, and dates to the 1910s, and the two landscapes — one above a circa 1902 Stickley bookcase and the other above a circa 1902 Stickley fall-front desk — are the work of Christian Walter. Because these paintings depict the Allegheny Mountains around Ligonier, a town southeast of Pittsburgh, Kathy says that she and Ed like calling their living room the “Allegheny room.”

Now turn right and walk into the dining room. There is a third fireplace here, faced with matte green Teco or Teco-like tiles that are different from those in the entrance hall and living room fireplaces. The extensive woodwork is oak — built-in china cabinets, door and window frames, wainscoting and ceiling beams. Ed points out that oak makes the room feel less formal than the living room next door.

The Friedmans call this space the “Monongahela room,” in honor of two nocturnes painted by the local master Aaron Gorson. William Gerdtz calls Gorson “Pittsburgh’s premier master of the local industrial scene,” and goes on to say, “Gorson was particularly adept at night scenes combining the fiery glow of industry with a pervasive Whistlerian atmosphere. The artist spoke of his fascination with the white flames and crystal sparks of metal seen against the black hills and shadowed waters of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers.” The Friedmans share that fascination, and recall that several of the mills painted by Gorson still lit the night sky when they first moved to Pittsburgh.

Now let’s go upstairs. The Stickley single-door washstand in the hallway — draped with an embroidered Arts and Crafts textile — is almost certainly one of a kind.

A cabinet like this endlessly fascinates Stickley collectors. Its frame-and-panel door construction, the bevel-edged boards of its sides, and the oversized rail at the top, are traits of Stickley’s early, circa 1902 furniture. But its round wooden knobs and the thin, shaped tenon ends that pierce the front legs are evidence that it was made later. It is one of those rarely seen special-order pieces, made specifically to fill some customer’s request.

Down the hall, in the second-floor library, there is a fireplace faced with white tiles, and on the walls, instead of oil paintings, there are framed Grueby, Van Briggle and Volkmar tiles. The fireplace in the master bedroom also has white tiles and the painting above it is another Will Hyette landscape. A like-new oak and webbed leather suitcase stand — cataloged by Stickley in 1902 as a “trunk rest” — is placed on the white-tiled hearth. As far as anyone knows, this is the only 1902 Stickley trunk rest in existence, and coming upon it at the end of a tour of the Friedmans’ house has caused more than one collector to turn the color of a Grueby tile.

The interior of the house is unified and harmonious, exactly the kind of domestic environment that, a hundred years ago, Arts and Crafts architects set out to create. As Kathy says, “It’s a very homey home.” Still, it is a home filled with beautiful objects and it gives the impression that the collection somehow materialized, perfectly, all at the same time. Of course, collections don’t happen like that; they demand years of persistent, single-minded effort. And the story of that effort, of how the Friedmans assembled this collection over many years, is as engrossing as the collection itself. As Ed often says, it is really a story about the people they’ve met along the way who helped shape their collecting over the decades.

The 1970s: Beginning to Collect

In the late 1960s, a handful of collectors living in California were buying Stickley furniture. In 1972, the year of the landmark Princeton exhibition, “The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1876-1916,” a second wave of collectors began to appear. Ed and Kathy Friedman caught that wave in 1975. She was then in dental school and he was a textbook editor for the publishing company Random House. At the time, as Ed recalls, they were an aesthetically minded young couple, living in New York City, with a taste for beauty but very little money, and Ed made their first furniture. He describes that homemade furniture as “primitive, functional, modernist.”

“I’ve never been without a restoration project for the last 20 years,” Charlie laughs. “My current bungalow has been the most well-thought-out and well-designed smaller house that I’ve ever done. When I bought this one I decided I needed to stay somewhere for a while and I knew that the redevelopment of Monrovia was on the upswing; 10 years later, it’s in full bloom.”

Then, on a visit to Gloucester, Mass., in 1975, they found their first piece of Stickley, though they didn’t know it was Stickley at the time. It was a big, solid library table, made of chestnut and composed entirely of right angles and straight lines. Ed, the amateur furniture maker, was overwhelmed by the construction of this piece because, he says, “It was put together with all kinds of joints that I knew I couldn’t make.”

Ed and Kathy paid $40 for the table, and that low price intrigued them too: what was this furniture, they wondered, that could be bought for less than the value of its wood? Once they owned that table, says Ed, “we loved the style. We were hooked.” And they began searching diligently for the intriguing, mysterious furniture that they initially called “straight stuff,” but that they soon learned to call by its right name: Stickley.

Within a few years they met Elaine and Robert Dillof, who had already assembled a major collection of Stickley furniture, Grueby pottery and other Arts and Crafts objects. (The Dillof collection is profiled in “A Crafted House,” Issue No. 30.) “We were blown away by their collection,” remembers Ed. “We thought we’d never live in a place like theirs.” Ed says that Elaine became their “godmother,” teaching them invaluable lessons about how to collect and giving them their first Collecting Rule: look constantly, and always look for the best.

At this time they also met Don Magner, an eccentric, ebullient Dickensian figure whose Brooklyn antiques shop was usually a near-impenetrable jumble but who always had a few Stickley gems tucked in there somewhere. The Friedmans became close friends with Magner, and Ed calls him “a major early influence on our collecting.” The L. & J.G. Stickley Prairie settle now in the Friedmans’ library came from Magner’s shop in the late 1970s. By this time they had learned their second Collecting Rule: always be ready to extend yourself financially and overpay for great things. For years, says Ed, “We were continually ‘in debt’ to our collection.”

In 1978, the Friedmans moved due north from New York City to the Hudson Valley town of Millbrook, Kathy entering a dental practice and Ed becoming a picker/dealer by day and in the evenings going to night school. They befriended the three or four other pickers who were also scouring the Northeast in search of Stickley, and from one, Steve Lapidus, they bought two early Stickley Morris chairs that are now in the living room of their Pittsburgh home. One is a flat-arm Morris chair with traces of its original green finish — a great rarity because Stickley’s green stains fade in sunlight — and the other is a bow-arm Morris chair with a label from the Cobb-Eastman Company, Stickley’s first Boston distributor. “Steve had a refined eye,” says Ed, “and he taught me a lot.” At this time the Friedmans learned their third Collecting Rule: search for information. Except for the catalog of the Princeton exhibition, almost nothing had been published on Stickley yet. So early collectors were always on the lookout for copies of The Craftsman magazine and for original Stickley catalogs that they could photocopy and swap with one another, all of them trying hard to gather information.

Perhaps Ed and Kathy’s most important early mentor was the Key West Arts and Crafts dealer, the late Chris Elmore. “Chris was the first person I met who looked at the furniture intellectually,” recalls Ed. “He reviewed the whole range of 20th-century American decorative arts because he wanted to identify great work that was still overlooked. By the mid- to late-1970s he was convinced that Stickley’s true importance would eventually be recognized.” Ed continues: “Chris was a connoisseur. He was a stickler for condition and he was very discriminating.” Through lessons learned from Chris Elmore, Ed and Kathy became increasingly sophisticated collectors.

The 1980s: Building — and Honing — the Collection

After a few years in Millbrook, Ed decided that he didn’t have what it takes to be a picker/dealer, because he couldn’t bear to part with some things. “I finally realized,” he says, “that I wanted to keep all the best things I found.” So the Friedmans moved to Pittsburgh. Kathy began practicing dentistry there and Ed went to medical school and eventually became a psychiatrist. They continued to be very active collectors, doing most of their buying in the area where they now live.

In 1982, at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, N.Y., Ed met Arts and Crafts collector Stephen Gray, and a few months later he and Kathy bought their majestic eight-leg Stickley sideboard from him. (Stephen Gray’s collection is profiled in “Bungalow in the Sky,” Issue No. 33.) Steve, too, has become a long-time friend and mentor, teaching them what may be the single most important Collecting Rule: focus. As Ed tells it, “Steve would come into our house and tell us what to weed out to hone and refine our collection. He taught us to be less eclectic and to focus on the great, early furniture.”

The 1990s: Shifts in Emphasis

In the 1990s, after living more than a decade in Pittsburgh, the Friedmans began collecting paintings by Gorson, Hyette and Walter, the early-20th-century western Pennsylvania landscape artists whose work is now found throughout their house. Though they continued to bring home Stickley furniture, they also started buying more metalwork: table lamps made by the great California Arts and Crafts artisan Dirk van Erp and also the sinuously shaped candlesticks made in Chicago by the self-taught master, Robert Jarvie.

In collecting van Erp and Jarvie they have once again turned to friends, in this instance Beth Cathers and Robert Kaplan, whose connoisseurship has helped the Friedmans find their way into what was for them a new and engrossing area of Arts and Crafts collecting. (The Cathers and Dembrosky gallery is profiled in Issue No. 40 and Robert Kaplan’s home is visited in “The Passionate Collector,” Issue No. 41.)

Over time, the Friedmans’ emphasis has shifted from finding more things to finding better ones. They also look for pieces that will fit comfortably into their home. “I like great objects,” says Ed, “but the collection is not just objects. It’s also meant to create a visually harmonious interior.” The collection, too, is evidence not just of the Friedmans’ knowledge and taste but of their extraordinary perseverance. And it is a tangible record of the many friends and mentors they came to know during the nearly 30 years they’ve been collecting.

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Table of Contents

Number 43
Fall 2004 (Purchase Here)

BUNGALOW FEATURES:

Personal History
A Family Tradition
by Tim Counts
A family retreat in rural Minnesota chockful of good memories.

Preservation
Little Bungalow on the Prairie:
Witchita Falls

by Dawn Murer and Lisa Worley
Residents work to preserve their
neighborhood in a region where
bungalows are underappreciated.

Arts & Crafts Collections
With a Little Help from Their Friends
by David Cathers
A Pittsburg Foursquare house fits a Stickley collection to a T.

Show Us What You’ve Done
Woodworking in the Woods
by Joseph Augustine
A backyard Craftsman retreat designed for woodworking
and gardening pleasure.

House History
A Lifelong Labor of Love, Rewarded
by John Luke
Years of dedicated renovation result in a home with great integrity.

Architecture
Recognizing the Spiritual in the Utalitarian
by Tim Counts
An architectural gem is also a great family house.

New Construction
An Ugly Duckling Becomes a Craftsman Swan
by John Luke
A South Carolina ranch gets a complete makeover.

DEPARTMENTS AND CRAFTSMAN RESOURCES:

A Letter from the Publisher

Open House: Letters to the Editor
Readers share their feedback and recent discoveries.

Family Album
“My house is a very, very, very fine house …

Antiques
Perspective on Antiques
With David Rudd

A new colum answering your Arts and Crafts collecting questions.

New & Noteworthy
Furniture, needlework, sinks and paint for your bungalow.

Arts & Crafts Profile
Catskill Furniture Makers:
The Mill on the Hudson

by John Luke
Fine furniture and custom millwork in upstate New York.

Books
Bungalow Basics: Bathrooms
Bungalow Basics: Kitchens

by Paul Duchscherer and Douglas Keister
Review by John Luke

American Bungalow Collection
Unique collectibles for gift giving.

American Bungalow News
The latest events, auction news and preservation updates.

From Our Friends
Money Pit in a Bear Market

by Kim Zachman
Her House is by far her best investment.

Directory of Advertisers

The Bungalow Bookstore
Our expanded listing of Arts and Crafts volumes.

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