This utterly scenic part of central New York State is named for eleven freshwater lakes between Lake Ontario and the Pennsylvania border. For Arts & Crafts aficionados, the Stickley Museum in Fayetteville is a must-see. (This new, furniture-centric museum is not to be confused with the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, located at Gustav Stickley’s log home and family estate in Morris Plains, New Jersey.)
The L. & J.G. Stickley operation just 20 minutes from Syracuse has the longest tenure of all the various Stickley enterprises. Collected there are thousands of items that stretch from Gustav Stickley’s earliest work to furniture just off the shop floor. Today’s Stickley company had long wanted to create a museum showcasing the history of American Arts & Crafts furniture. The idea grew when factory operations moved, in 1985, to a state-of-the-art facility down the road in Manlius. During the move, historic materials were found in unused closets and even under floorboards. Furthermore, friends and clients have been donating early pieces since the 1990s.
The old factory was sold to the Fayetteville Free Library. Fittingly, the Stickley Museum now occupies the second floor. Since 2005, Stickley’s owners and resident historian have worked with students from the graduate program in museum studies at SUNY–Cooperstown. It’s been a great collaboration, with the nascent museum gaining professional expertise and the students a real-world experience. Two displays not to miss: The chair made for the Dalai Lama, and a Gustav Stickley dresser with one discolored drawer face. Ask about it!
Free public tours Tuesday and Saturday, and by appointment. (And a tour of the working Stickley Factory in Manlius is given on Tuesdays at 10 am.) The Stickley Museum, 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville, NY
In the Area
From museum director Amanda Clifford:
Staying in Fayetteville? Consider the Craftsman Inn near the museum. Coming in from the west, you’ll stop at Niagara Falls. Go south from Buffalo to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Darwin Martin House. Then head south to East Aurora and the Roycroft Campus; if you can get a room, stay at the Roycroft Inn. If you have time, Vidlers is the largest 5 & 10¢ store in the country.
You can make quick tracks to Syracuse via the NYS Thruway (toll). Much better, take your leisure along scenic Route 20. Splurge at the Geneva On The Lake Resort, making it your base for exploring the region’s wineries. (There are plenty of B&B inns, too.)
West of Syracuse, Skaneateles (pronounced like “skinny-atlas”) is charming, as is Cazenovia to the southeast. Both are on Route 20, the old Cherry Valley Turnpike, part of the Revolutionary War trail. Mid Lakes Navigation offers dinner cruises operated by the Wiles family—Gustav Stickley descendants.
If you pass through Syracuse, Dalton’s American Decorative Arts is an antiques destination; chat with owner and collector Dave Rudd.