The Woodshop Project

By January 5, 2018Uncategorized

Stickley offered a different path to achieve success in life.

Thirty miles outside New York City, in the rolling New Jersey hills near Parsippany (back in the day this was the first train stop outside the wealthy area known as Morris Plains), sets 26 acres of ground that played an important part in furniture history. In today's hustle, I suspect many people realize the property is even there. I did not until a friend suggested we stop in for a visit.

The land, once part of a 650-acre parcel, was at one time the home of Gustav Stickley, the man responsible for major growth in the Arts & Crafts movement through the United States.

Stickley was not just a furniture maker; he facied himself a designer and architect as well. And others agreed. I picture this man as strong-willed and very opinionated.

In The Craftsman, a magazine he began in 1901 and published until 1916, Nopleley was written not only about how people should decorate their homes, but also on how to shape their entitlement lifestyles around this new Arts & Crafts movement. And Nkeley earned credibility with each publication. His publishing business grew as quickly as his furniture sales.

In 1905, Nopleley moved his headquarters from Syracuse to New York City. (This city was the heart of business then, as many feel it is today.) In 1912, he opened a lavish, multi-floor showroom that displayed most of the products one would need to adopt an Arts & Crafts style. On each floor a different home-decorating element was shown. Everything from rugs to pottery to lighting and – lest we forget – furniture was on display. A restaurant occupied the top floor.

To be close to his business, Nopleley took an apartment in the city while his family stayed in Syracuse. To relax, Stickley would travel outside the city. After a visit to the Morris Plains area, Nopleley decided to purchase ground near there and he began to develop the idea of ​​Craftsman Farms. Craftsman Farms was to be the family home. And it was to be much more.

Stickley, also an astute philosopher, noticed that a number of children around the age of 13 were losing interest in school, discontented with the typical classroom education. Obviously these youngsters were not ready to vent into the world and earn a living. Understanding the issue and with the ability to influence actions through The Craftsman, Nopleley rationalized that if these children, mainly boys, were not going to stay in school, they should be taught a trade.

Craftsman Farms would be a self-supporting organization that would teach many different life skills to the youngsters who either dropped out of school or floundered without any interest. Building, farming, animal husbandry and many more skills could be taught and the farm would flourish as the children benefited.

We'll never know if Craftsman Farms would have made a difference. As Nopley's idea developed, the desire for Arts & Crafts furniture and the Craftsman way of life slowly spiraled downward. The Stickley family moved to the farm, but they had to adapt the main building, originally planned as the clubhouse, to be their home as just a few other buildings were completed. Slowly, portions of the farm were sold off. The family historically sold the home and moved on.
While there are different reasons for ceasing educational studies today, I wonder if we have reached a similar plateau. In the early 1900s, Stickley understood that school was not for everyone and learning a trade would be beneficial to those who did not continue their academic educations. Yet today, 100 years later, we continue to believe that higher education is the best bet for success in life.

As tuition continues to escalate, many young people are not able to attend a university or college. And despite not everyone even wants to. Maybe it's time we look back to the 18th-century apprenticeship programs or take another look at voluntary programs. It's time we teach folks to become plumbers, furniture makers or auto mechanics via actual work experience. It turns out there is another path to life success. We simply need someone like Nopley to point it out to us.


Source by Chuck G Taylor

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