A Stickley and Audi Legacy: Fayetteville's Stickley Museum

A Stickley and Audi Legacy: Fayetteville's Stickley Museum

Shortly after Alfred and Aminy Audi purchased L. & J.G. Stickley 50 years ago, they made an astonishing discovery. Stored in the basement of the company’s Fayetteville, New York, factory was a considerable collection of antique furniture that Leopold Stickley had acquired and tucked away over many years: Dutch and German pieces from the Northern New York countryside that inspired his Cherry Valley colonial collection and English antiques shipped back from his travels in Europe. Today, they are among the oldest furniture on display at The Stickley Museum, a fascinating retrospective housed in that very same factory building.


Building a collection

The Audis recognized the importance of this historic find and set about preserving it in hopes of some future opportunity for display. Certain pieces, like the country church–inspired Deacon’s Bench, even found their way back into Stickley’s product line 40-odd years after first appearing in Cherry Valley. Others were kept in storage while the Audis continued to add to the collection by acquiring original Stickley antiques through auctions and private sale.


Old space, new life

Meanwhile, the Fayetteville factory building was undergoing changes of its own. It had operated for many decades as the heart of Stickley’s manufacturing business, but by the 1980s the company had outgrown it, and a new factory was built in nearby Manlius and opened in 1985. The Fayetteville building was sold for development into condos. Before that could happen, though, a fire tore through the structure and caused significant damage. The Audis bought the building back and started the long process of restoring and transforming it for a new purpose.

The first floor of the building came to house the Fayetteville Free Library in 2003. On the second floor, a number of factory workspaces were preserved in much the same state they’d been in for nearly a century, while the large finishing room was prepared to house the long-imagined museum.


 

Museum from scratch

To help with the transformation, Mr. Audi brought in a team of students from SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies. The students organized the collection, designed the display area, and wrote copy to tell the company’s story; their lead, Greg Vadney, went on to become the museum’s first director. The Audis themselves donated items, including Mr. Audi’s childhood Cherry Valley bed and the terrace server that was a wedding gift to them from Louise Stickley. Finally, on April 11, 2007—Alfred Audi’s birthday—The Stickley Museum held its grand-opening celebration, including a special dinner for past and present employees who had worked in the old factory.


 

Living history

To walk the museum today is to watch a brand evolve through history, and to see that, in Mrs. Audi’s words, “Stickley is a lot more than Mission.” You’ll see examples of Stickley’s signature construction techniques, classic pieces brought back into the fold (a Prairie Settle from the famous Christie’s auction of Barbra Streisand’s Stickley collection), and masterpieces like the Bombé Chest-on-Chest from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection.

 

You can also discover the museum’s most recent acquisitions. In 2023, Museum Director Amanda Clifford was thrilled to add two original examples of Stickley’s Russwood children’s furniture, produced in the 1930s and featuring illustrations by local Central New York artist Bill Breck. And you’ll also experience Mission-inspired modern pieces like our award-winning Park Slope Accent Chair and the beautiful Park Slope Dresser with its stunning ray-flake grain and reverse-tapered posts. The Stickley Museum is a must-see for furniture lovers and history buffs, and a fun experience for those just being introduced to American furniture design and craft.

The Stickley Museum is located at 300 Orchard Street, Fayetteville, New York, on the second floor (enter through the Fayetteville Free Library). Admission is free, and current hours are Tuesdays 9am – 5pm, Fridays 10am – 5pm (May 1 through October 1 only), and Saturdays 10am – 5pm.

Post adapted from “Stroll Through the Years at Fayetteville’s Stickley Museum,” Inside Stickley blog, April 2021.

Additional sources:

Mrs. Aminy Audi, CEO and Chair of the Board 

Amanda Clifford, Director, The Stickley Museum