Vibrant communities unite families, nurture harmonious industry with good labor relationships, and can create stability and balance for its residents. These types of communities promote lasting histories that make interesting places to visit. This is what I found on a recent trip to Eastwood located in Syracuse, NY. While my initial goal was to visit the city’s Arts and Crafts sites, I wound up discovering how the movement’s philosophies had influenced the city…or was it the city that had influenced the movement? I’m still not sure, but one thing is clear, Arts and Crafts history flourishes in Syracuse, and is linked directly to its community.
Eager to tour area Arts and Crafts sites, My first stop was the L & J G Stickley furniture factory in Manlius (1 Stickley DR; Manlius, NY 13104). The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail I witnessed included hand sanding of parts, manually rubbed-out finishes, and individually matching grain patterns. In addition to the personal craftsmanship touches, modern CNC routers and industrial jointers, planers, and saws were integrated in the process where it made sense to increase efficiency without sacrificing quality. It’s pretty rare to see a chisel toting CNC operator. Interested visitors should plan on attending their public tours offered every Tuesday.
I had the opportunity to speak with many of the craftsman. Their words and actions reveal much about the 21st century Stickley Company. I discovered one family that currently has three generations building furniture, and several families with two generations represented.
Another great place to visit in the Syracuse area, Fayetteville to be exact, (300 Orchard ST; Fayetteville, NY 13066) is the Stickley museum. Located in the original L & JG Stickley factory, the museum, (which is open Tuesdays from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Saturdays from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM) tells the story of the L & JG Stickley company, their role in the broader Arts and Crafts movement; and the contributions made by the other Stickley brothers-Gustav, Albert and Charles. Touring the museum, you can’t help but learn the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement as told through the Stickley’s furniture. My favorite display illustrated how the L & JG Stickley Company has carried on the tradition of using quality joinery and materials. The display of two 9-drawer chests shows side-by-side a 1910 and a 1997 model.
A t 308 Clinton St. (Fayetteville, NY 13066) you’ll find a handsomely restored and maintained Queen Anne house. It’s a very short walk from the original factory. Complete with a corner tower, it provides a beautiful example of the period’s architecture. The house is the former home of Leopold Stickley. If you try, it’s not hard to imagine Lee walking the short distance between his home and furniture factory.
No trip to Syracuse is complete without a stop at Dalton’s American Decorative Arts, located in Eastwood, and considered “the village within the city,” in the structure once known as Gallaway’s pharmacy, you’ll find exceptional examples of Arts and Crafts furniture and other decorative arts accessories. Proprietors David Rudd and Debbie Goldwein have great knowledge of each piece on display, providing a running dialogue rich in both history of the individual pieces, and their broader context within the Arts and Crafts era. You can spend hours in their shop being educated and listening to stories. Not only can they educate on the design subtleties’ between the various Stickley brother’s furniture, but they can illustrate their point with original pieces. They also features a wide selection of furnituremakers, from JM Young and the Harden Furniture Co, to Charles Rohlfs.
Finally, if you’re in the mood to see some excellent examples of architecture, ask David to suggest a route for driving through the nearby Sedgwick neighborhood. It’s a nearby neighborhood that has many unique Tudor Revival houses peppered throughout its collection of Italianate and Colonial Revival architecture.
Another spot to investigate while in the area includes Gustav Stickley’s Eastwood Factory. It’s located at the intersection of Burnet Ave. and Luddington St (at approx 2930 Burnet Ave; Syracuse, NY 13206). More accurately, it’s the building that evolved from the structure built by Gustav Stickley to house his United Crafts manufacturing facilities. Sadly, there’s been no restoration or maintenance effort, so you’ll have to use your imagination to go back in time and envision what was.
Very nearby is the home of Gustav Stickley. Located at 438 Columbus Ave (Syracuse, NY 13210), is the house where Gus lived from 1900 to 1911 before moving to his Craftsman Farms estate. Eventually Gus’ daughter came to live here with her husband; and it was with her, in this very house where he lived from 1919 until his death. The Gustav Stickley sideboard once purchased by Barbara Streisand were originally furnishings in this house.
For former fans of NBC’s sitcom Cheers, the bar where “everyone knows your name.” Be sure to visit Riley’s or Mother’s Cupboard Fish Fry.
Riley’s is in the Eastern Syracuse community near Dalton’s and the Sedgwick neighborhood at 312 Park St (Syracuse, NY 13203-1532). Once you sit back and enjoy the sounds of this neighborhood restaurant, you’ll be reminded why community and family should matter. I had the trout-it came with mashed potatoes and green beans.
Mother’s Cupboard Fish Fry is an exceptional diner, in a style that you just don’t find anymore. It has been run by the same family for so long, that if renovations were ever considered, the grandfather clause protections they enjoy would be lost and countless upgrades would immediately be required-and probably render Mother’s Cupboard unrecognizable to its many long time patrons. From the short-order cook with his grill just inches from the counter to the sassy, loving waitresses, this diner is a must see. They’re easy to find on James St (3709 James St; Syracuse, NY 13210). Order the pancake.
When entering the Eastwood neighborhood there is a sign that says “Welcome to Eastwood—-“the village within the city.” The village within the city, I think nicely sums up what you’ll find when you visit Syracuse.
If you’d like to learn more about Syracuse and its Arts and Crafts history, checkout these resources:
Syracuse, written by the Onondaga Historical Association; published by Arcadia Publishing (Mount Pleasant, SC) in 1997.
Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center321 Montgomery St., Syracuse, NY. 13202; Phone 315-428-1864