[originally posted May 2021]
Leopold Stickley decided in 1902 to leave his brother Gustav’s United Crafts workshop, where he was foreman, partnering instead with younger brother John George to open their own Onondaga Shops in Fayetteville, New York. As part of this business separation, Onondaga Shops took over all United Crafts contract obligations for outside projects, and in doing so, Leopold established what would be a pillar of the soon-renamed L. & J.G. Stickley furniture company. He recognized early on that maintaining a reliable contract business would be necessary to keeping a residential business operational.
Building a reputation
es, Stickley took on extensive contracts in and around Central New York. This work became especially profitable during the height of the popular Cherry Valley colonial collection.
Through the first half of the twentieth century and beyond, Stickley becamesynonymous with well-made, long-lasting, and cost-effective furniture and was in great demand at schools, colleges, hospitals, country clubs, and even embassies: in Washington, D.C., dealer E.J. Audi furnished the Embassy Lebanon with Stickley
Stickley on the sea
The production of residential furniture was largely put on hold during World War II, so the company focused its efforts on contracts that supported the war effort. Among its projects in the spring of 1943, Stickley outfitted four U. S. Navy ships with furniture for meeting rooms and crew quarters. Surviving blueprints for the designs show some of the modifications that were necessary for sea-going furniture, including rails at the edges of a mess table to catch sliding objects, easy-to-clean linoleum tops, collapsible desktops, and the means for bolting pieces to the floor!
Stickley Contract today
While Stickley’s contract work in the early twentieth century focused mainly on schools, hospitals, and some civic projects, today’s reach is much wider. Stickley Contract has expanded to become a full division of L. & J. G. Stickley, Inc., with its own dedicated sales team, and it handles installations in five principal categories: hospitality, higher education, wellness, government, and restaurants. The Central New York region still accounts for a healthy chunk of its business, but Stickley Contract projects take the brand to every corner of the United States and various points around the globe.
Hotels with style
Stickley Contract works closely with top designers in the hospitality industry to take their visions from sketchbook to reality. These projects give the brand a chance to show its versatility when it comes to style and function, since hotels have wildly varying looks and require furnishings and fixtures quite different to those in residential homes. You’ll see Stickley’s work in hotels and resorts throughout the country, including the restored Hotel Syracuse (now Marriott Syracuse), the Arizona Biltmore, The Lodge Torrey Pines, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, plus recent installations at the Emeline Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, and at the Commodore Perry Estate in Austin, Texas.
A number of Upstate New York colleges and universities still boast Stickley furnishings, including Syracuse, Hobart & William Smith, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Colgate (alma mater of our own Alfred J. Audi and Edward Audi!). For SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Stickley Contract completed one of its first campus housing projects when it furnished new dorms, and it helped restore the college’s historic Huntington Lodge in the Adirondacks in classic Mission style. Stickley furnished the entire Yale Law School during a three-year project; more recently, a request from the university led to the creation of a custom conference table, expanded from an existing Nichols & Stone design and outfitted with built-in ports to accommodate communications technology.
Some projects involve relationships that date back to Stickley’s beginnings. Stickley has supplied the historic Grove Park Inn, a beloved resort in Asheville, North Carolina, practically since its inception more than 100 years ago. Stickley is well-represented in its lobbies, guest rooms, and the impressive Great Hall.
This year we’ll continue the Grove Park connection by fulfilling an order for new public-space furnishings. And at Yellowstone National Park, you’ll find the legendary Old Faithful Inn, an iconic lodge believed to have contained Stickley and Roycroft pieces when it opened in 1910. Now the Inn has reached out to Stickley once again, and we’ll be providing new furnishings for this extraordinary building in the early part of 2022. More than 110 years on, Stickley and Yellowstone have come full circle, and Stickley Contract continues to represent the brand with pride.
Mrs. Aminy Audi, CEO and Chair of the Board
Amanda Clifford, Director, The Stickley Museum
Jeff Sladick, Director of Sales, Stickley Contract
Marriott Syracuse photo courtesy of marriott.com.
Hotel Emeline photo courtesy of hotelemeline.com.
Commodore Perry Estate photo courtesy of aubergeresorts.com.
Grove Park Inn photo courtesy of omnihotels.com.