"Thinking in Reverse":

A Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Preserving a property like Craftsman Farms is not a solo operation. With a thirty-acre landscape and nine original buildings, the preservation of Craftsman Farms requires the hands, minds, and help of many individuals. It is a daily undertaking, and it is a team effort. I asked Jonathan Clancy, who oversees preservation activities across the property, to help me assemble a list of all the people who are a part of this hands-on team. 

On any given day, preservation activities may require the work of architects, engineers, project managers, conservators, carpenters, iron workers, masons, roofers, painters, and laborers (at right, Jonathan Clancy (l) is standing in the Log House kitchen with Annex Project Architect Thomas Sheridan (r) of HMR Architects). A wide range of technicians help us year-round with maintaining complex climate control systems, a sophisticated fire suppression system, with fire and burglar protection, and with pest control.

The grounds are maintained with the help of landscape architects, groundskeepers, and the museum’s caretaker. (And the grounds recently received an exciting upgrade, pictured below, when a new railing was added to the Ruth Cruess Glesmann Walkway and many of its bluestone pavers were replaced or repaired and cleaned.)

Add to this list the local, county, and state officials who provide guidance and assistance with grant funding; the museum’s staff, who perform daily checks and manage all of these preservation projects; the Board of Trustees, who oversee our work, and volunteers, who assist with a variety of tasks, including the hardworking team who undertook weeding and pruning across the property two weeks ago (at left is Bernadette Gallo (l) and Board President Barbara Weiskittel (r). Trustee Laura Russell is pictured below weeding flower beds).

That’s a long list of people, but truly, that’s only part of it.

For me, the team also includes every Member, donor, and program attendee—in short, all of the museum’s supporters. Successful preservation, and by that I mean the kind of careful preservation that honors the past while mindfully planning for the future, requires the support of many.

At the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, preservation is the work of a community. 

Before 2020 and the onset of the global pandemic, I would have told you that the museum was supported by a strong community around the United States and abroad. It was, but until the events of 2020, which brought a pandemic and then a devastating tropical storm to the museum’s doorstep, I didn’t fully understand the strength of this community. I am routinely astounded and humbled by the commitment of people far and wide to this museum and its mission.

The past three years have brought challenges to the museum that before 2020, I could not have imagined. And through it all, when we are facing down a particularly difficult situation or decision, I have been both relieved and reinforced by the sense that we are not working in isolation but are supported by a likeminded community, who is with us in spirit, equally dedicated to the museum’s mission, and envisioning a bright future to share with the generations who will follow us. 

I am writing today, ahead of this year's Craftsman Gala (a "Preservation Celebration") on Saturday, October 7, to ask our Preservation Community to be generous in support of this annual fundraiser. The Gala has been the museum’s most important fundraiser for years, but the 2023 Craftsman Gala will be one of its most pivotal. 

The museum closed its doors in March 2020, and though we have resumed tours, the museum has not fully re-opened while we have focused on rebuilding the Annex after Tropical Storm Isaias. The financial burden caused by this re-opening delay has only this year come into full view. As Covid receded and the rest of world fully re-opened, the Stickley Museum has not. 

In June 2022, as construction to rebuild the Annex commenced (pictured at left), we expected the project to be completed by summer 2023. In fact, we had hoped for a grand re-opening event that would coincide with our 2023 Craftsman Gala in October. We budgeted for a closed museum through the summer, and then in the fall, we expected to return to on-site programs and increased visitation with a fully restored Log House kitchen. We planned to re-open a bustling, on-site retail shop within a new visitor pavilion, just in time for the holidays. Instead, the project has faced significant, repeated delays and a continually evolving timeline. As an organization, this has meant a prolonged contraction of our on-site operations. It has meant planning for the future amid ongoing uncertainty and now, from a position of financial insecurity. 

With the timeline of our full re-opening unclear, we are anticipating a significant budget shortfall at the end of the year. We want to work now—with the upcoming Craftsman Gala—to address those anticipated deficits. With help from our Preservation Community, we can raise funds to meet our budget. Doing this will put the museum on solid footing so that we will emerge from construction a robust and resilient organization.

At this year’s Craftsman Gala, during the annual reverse auction, the museum will be seeking to raise $160,000. This goal is a big one for a small organization—so big that we are calling it the “Reverse Auction Challenge.” This year’s reverse auction—which is traditionally the highlight of the event—will be our most important to date and it will take a community to help us meet this challenge. I hope to see you at the Gala (Click here to purchase your tickets), but even if you cannot attend, you can still be a part of the Reverse Auction. Read on to find out how you can get involved.

In asking our Preservation Community to support our fundraising efforts, I want to end by noting that our aim is to send a message of inspiration, not one of desperation. I want to inspire you to be an active part of the museum’s passionate Preservation Community. I want to inspire you to give and to be generous. I want to inspire you look years ahead. By giving now—in the present—you are becoming a part of this museum’s future. More than 100 years ago, Gustav Stickley began Craftsman Farms as his individual vision. It takes a community—an active, strong, single-minded community—to protect his vision and pass it on. We invite you to help us do that.  


The Reverse Auction Challenge!

The Reverse Auction is the highlight of The Craftsman Gala. Unlike a typical auction—where bidders compete against each other—in a reverse auction, bidders pool their funds in support of a cause. The community of bidders collaborate, with everyone giving at a level of their choosing. In the end, instead of one winner, everyone wins, and the biggest winner of all is the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms! The Gala Reverse Auction is a fun and exhilarating experience, and the more people who are a part of it, the more meaningful it is. 

Even if you are not attending The Craftsman Gala, you can be a part of the Reverse Auction by making an absentee (or advance) bid (it's easy! Just click on the form below). The names of all absentee bidders will be read aloud at the Gala, ensuring that everyone in attendance will know that you are supporting in spirit from wherever you are!

Bid in the Reverse Auction

All $50 & $250 donations will be MATCHED!

We are thrilled to announce that all gifts of $50 and $250 to the Reverse Auction Challenge will be matched!

All $50 gifts will be matched by the museum’s Board of Trustee President Barbara Weiskittel.

All $250 gifts will be matched by by Vice President Ted Lytwyn.

Click the form below be a part of the Reverse Auction Challenge. 

Bid in the Reverse Auction
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Pinterest  Youtube  
at Craftsman Farms

Craftsman Farms, the former home of noted designer Gustav Stickley, is owned by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills and is operated by The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Inc., (“SMCF”) (formerly known as The Craftsman Farms Foundation, Inc.). SMCF is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New Jersey. Restoration of the National Historic Landmark, Craftsman Farms, is made possible, in part, by a Save America’s Treasures Grant administered by the National Parks Service, Department of the Interior, and by support from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust, The New Jersey Historic Trust, and individual donors. SMCF received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, and a grant from the New Jersey Arts & Culture Recovery Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. Educational programs are funded, in part, by grants from the Arts & Crafts Research Fund.