Several of the buildings at Crab Tree Farm display Arts and Crafts collections in settings that have been created to reflect the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Furniture displayed in the buildings is primarily the work of Gustav Stickley (1858–1942), one of the most prominent figures of the American Arts and Crafts movement. In addition to furniture, the collection includes artwork (metalware, ceramics, textiles, paintings, etc.) created by American, English, and European designers, makers, and artists who were Stickley’s contemporaries.
The Arts and Crafts movement, inspired in England by the writings of John Ruskin and the work of the designer William Morris in the late nineteenth century, developed in reaction to the loss of artisanry and pride in one’s labor brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Stickley was the most active promoter of the movement in North America. His somewhat austere and highly rectilinear line of furniture became known as “Craftsman,” “Arts & Crafts,” or “Mission Oak.” Stickley manufactured his furniture in Syracuse, New York, and had a large showroom and offices in New York City from 1906 to 1916, a period during which Arts and Crafts reached its full expression in the United States.
The materials and finishes of most of the interior settings at Crab Tree Farm were created as set forth by Stickley in The Craftsman magazine, which he published from 1901 to 1916. In 1905 he wrote that he hoped the magazine would demonstrate “how to create an environment where simple needs are met in a simple, direct way; in pointing out how a home [should be a place] where lives may be lived out in peace and happiness . . . and where good work may be done because of the silent influences of space, freedom and sincerity.”