Expert David Rudd is American Bungalow’s knowledgeable guide into the fascinating and often confusing world of antiques. Send your questions and photos to email@example.com and share your find with other readers. We look forward to hearing from you.
David Rudd is president of the Arts and Crafts Society of Central New York and owner of Dalton’s American Decorative Arts in Syracuse; visit his shop at daltons.com. The opinions expressed in this column are David’s own.
From Fall Issue 91. Click here to view the article in it’s original layout.
Documentary Film Story and Columbus Avenue House Restoration
Work is currently underway to bring the story of Arts and Crafts movement’s visionary Gustav Stickley to the big screen. The new feature-length documentary film crew has recently filmed in Boston, New Jersey and in upstate New York. When they were filming in Syracuse in mid-July, they captured some footage at Stickley’s Columbus Avenue home where they had a chance to speak to the team behind the project to restore the property.
The film crew asked David Rudd, from the Board of the Gustav Stickley House Foundation, to tell them about the project.
TELL US ABOUT THE GUSTAV STICKLEY HOUSE ON COLUMBUS AVENUE.
Rudd: The Gustav Stickley house at 438 Columbus Avenue in Syracuse represents a turning point in architecture and design away from the Victorian ideals of the 19th century to a more modern way of life and esthetic at the beginning of the 20th century. The house is a typical tract home built in the late Queen Anne style so common in many of the neighborhoods in Syracuse. Stickley purchased the home upon its completion in 1900. On Christmas Eve, 1901, there was a fire that destroyed much of the interior. Spending a year rebuilding, Stickley redesigned and reconfigured the interior into what can be considered an icon of American design and architecture.
In December of 1902 Gustav Stickley’s “new” home was featured in his periodical, The Craftsman Magazine. This article would set the pace for a new style of interior design now known as American Craftsman. It was the first Craftsman interior in the country. I believe this was the beginning of Stickley’s interest in architectural design and helped him work through the process. This also helped with interior design becoming a major aspect of his business.
WHY IS THIS SUCH AN IMPORTANT LOCATION TO THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT?
Rudd: Gustav Stickley established his business in Syracuse, which created a hub for the movement, with Stickley being at its nucleus. He surrounded himself with bright forward-thinking individuals. Designers like Henry Wilkinson and Lamont Warner would help propel him to the position he desired. Syracuse was the home of Adelaide Robineau, the mother of studio ceramics, and Irene Sargent, who edited and wrote brilliantly for his magazine—The Craftsman. At the height of popularity of the period, there would be more than a dozen manufacturers of mission oak furniture within 30 miles of Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops.
WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATION’S PLANS FOR THE PROPERTY?
Rudd: Our immediate plans are for restoration of the exterior. It has seen major deterioration over the last 15 years or so. It is in desperate need of a new roof along with major soffit and siding work. There will be work on the structure due to water infiltration because of the failed roof. Chimneys and the foundation need work. The electrical will be consolidated and updated for safety. Windows, doors, and porches need to be addressed. We also now know what the front porch looked like. Until recently, we had no photos. Beth Crawford from Crawford and Stearns, the architectural firm working on the project, researched this until she found a photo in an old news article. This work falls under the first phase of construction scheduled for completion by fall of 2017.
The second phase will be all the interior work, and I will update our readers about this in a future column.
HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP RESTORE THIS IMPORTANT PROPERTY?
Rudd: Projects like this are very expensive. The cost to restore this property to museum standards will be a couple million dollars. We need donations, large and small. Everything helps.
All donations are tax deductible. Very shortly we may even be able to give private tours to patrons that are curious about what they are giving to.
The documentary film on Gustav Stickley is being directed by filmmaker Herb Stratford. The Columbus Ave. House crew had the opportunity to speak with Herb when he was here filming.
WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS FILM?
Stratford: My wife and I have been fans of the Arts and Crafts movement, and Gustav Stickley in particular, for more than twenty years. While we had been collecting the furniture, pottery, and other items, we also bought a great of deal of books on the history of the movement and lamented that there had not been a film made about Stickley. In addition to being a filmmaker, I’m also a film critic and film festival programmer, so I decided to make my next film about this subject. We’ve been warmly welcomed by the Arts and Crafts community and the Stickley family, and can’t wait to share the finished project.
WHAT HAVE YOU SHOT AND WHAT IS STILL LEFT TO SHOOT?
Stratford: We’ve captured footage at Craftsman Farms, the Stickley Columbus Avenue house, some private collections, and at a few other locations. We’ve also captured interviews with different individuals including family members and Stickley historians and scholars. We will be filming at the upcoming 30th anniversary Arts and Crafts Conference in February at the Grove Park Inn, and in a few other locations in 2017.
WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR COMPLETION?
Stratford: We will finish principal photography on the film in the summer of 2017 and then spend the rest of the year editing. We plan on having the film ready for film festival screenings in 2018, followed by a commercial DVD/
Bluray release later in 2018–019.
HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED/SUPPORT THE FILM?
Stratford: This film is an independent production that is being paid for by us, with help from the public.
We look forward to the completion of both of these major projects and know they will be important steps to further documenting the roots of the Arts and Crafts movement in America.
To donate to the Gustav Stickley Columbus Avenue House Restoration Project, you can go to the house website
or go to the Facebook page for updates: Gustav Stickley House Foundation. To donate to the Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman documentary, visit the film’s Facebook page for more information.