The interior of the Gustav Stickley House maintains a sense of timelessness without being overbearing in its grandeur. At the entrance, a narrow, dilapidated staircase sits next to crooked windows facing the street. The minimalist ceiling beams support what’s considered a contemporary take on the 19th century Victorian style of architecture.

“Notice the windows are crooked,” said David Michel, University Neighborhood Preservation Association project coordinator for the Gustav Stickley House restoration. “The contractor discovered that famed furniture maker Gustav Stickley was not a structural engineer, for sure.”

The Gustav Stickley House, located at 438 Columbus Ave., completed phase one of its restoration this summer. When the project is completed, the craftsman house will be a fully functional boutique museum hotel, said Gregg Tripoli, executive director of Onondaga Historical Association.

“The house is of great significance in making local history accessible to everyone beyond the velvet rope,” Tripoli said.

The historical value of the Stickley family house was nationally recognized in 1984 with a position on the National Register of Historic Places, according to an official document by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Erected in 1900, the house represents a pivotal transition from traditional Victorian architectural style to Stickley’s more modern take, according to the summary report by Crawford & Stearns, Architects and Preservation Planners.

Gustav Stickley continues to be remembered as the forebearer of the Craftsman movement in central New York. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement that flourished in Britain and spread throughout Europe and North America between 1880 and 1920, the Craftsman style drew from the traditional simplicity of decor and design while introducing modernism to the architectural style.

The interior of the Stickley home was severely damaged in a Christmas Eve house fire in 1901, the year it was first built. Dreams of Stickley’s restorations were brought to life this year, reviving the house literally from the ashes.

The house was donated to the UNPA in April 2016 by the Audi family, according to the UNPA report, granting it ownership status. After completion of both phases, the property is set to be transferred to the OHA to run it as a museum house hotel, keeping with Stickley’s Craftsman sensibilities.

Interior renovations are underway

Phase one of restorations included a new roof and improvements for the windows and porch, according to the summary report by UNPA, a not-for-profit organization established to promote East Syracuse.

“We are very pleased with the progress made so far on the restoration of the Gustav Stickley House restoration and equally excited about Gregg Tripoli’s vision for its future,” said Aminy Audi, CEO and Chairman of the Board of L. & J.G. Stickley.

The budget for phase two is currently estimated at $2 million, per the UNPA report, while the organization is waiting on a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund. The Gustav Stickley House Foundation is a major source of generating funds for restoration and long-term preservation of the house, Michel said.

“It is a big project, as it puts museum theory into practice,” Tripoli added.

The museum, with its period artifacts, will be open by appointment only and for touring, Tripoli said. The hotel will be a bed and breakfast with five to six rooms and suites, which could cost anywhere from $150 to $300 a night and could potentially increase by the time the hotel is open, according to Tripoli.

“The breakfast part of the bed and breakfast will be an array of American food, and if you would like to dine in, a special meal can be arranged,” Tripoli said. He added that a host will greet guests and conduct a small tour, briefing visitors on the regulations that come with historical places and offering personalized concierge service.

The hotel will also work with local producers to create exclusive toiletries and soaps and replicate chocolates made by Mary Elizabeth Evans Sharpe, a woman Stickley once helped whose chocolates became renowned in Syracuse.

The restoration project encourages visitors to experience a unique piece of local history while upholding the Stickley’s family legacy.

“It feels surreal to have my family heritage be nationally recognized this way,” said Sarah Stickley Wiles, Gustav Stickley’s great-granddaughter and vice president of the Gustav Stickley House Foundation. “The restored house is going to be neat.”


This feature was published in the Daily Orange (online) and Pulp (print), Aug 2018, Syracuse, NY

Image courtesy: Lyle Michael

Video link and courtesy: Lyle Michael