Thursday, July 17, 2014

From Benjamin Brester to John D. Rockefeller to Gustav Stickley

It might be a stretch, you say, but let us reach out and connect Gustav Stickley with Benjamin Brewster, who made his mark in life as a trustee of Standard Oil Company, the brain child of John D. Rockefeller.

Brewster Inn, Lake Cazenovia

Benjamin Brewster was one of the original trustees of Standard Oil. He was born in 1828 in Norwich, Connecticut to Patrick Brewster (fourth great-grandson of Mayflower Pilgrim William Brewster) and Catharine Fanny Roath. In 1849 he went west with the California Gold Rush, establishing a general mercantile store in San Francisco. His partner was Oliver Burr Jennings. They were wildly successful. Jennings would later married the sister of William Rockefeller’s wife and as we all know, it is not what you know but who you know. William was younger brother and partner to John D. Rockefeller who began Standard Oil. Money begets money. Brewster, now rich became richer. 

In 1890 Brewster built a summer home in Cazenovia, New York, which he named "Scrooby" after the English manor house in Nottinghamshire, England where his ancestor William Brewster lived before departing on the Mayflower. 

Lake Cazenovia

Brewster's home on the shores of Lake Cazenovia now houses the Brewster Inn. 

Brewster Inn Restaurant

Benjamin Brewster died at his home in Cazenovia in 1897 at the age of 69. His pallbearers included John D. Rockefeller. Benjamin and his wife Fanny had six children, one of whom, Mary Dows Brewster Jennings, lived until 1964.

What does this have to do with Gustav Stickley? 

Little, for Gustav Stickley was just then, in 1897, returning from a trip to Europe where he became acquainted with English humanist, designer, and social critic and founder of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. William Morris. Stickley would go on to found American Arts and Crafts Movement and develop designs that would later be known as Mission Furniture. Gustav would go on to build a furniture factory in nearby Syracuse which today continues to make the hallmark Mission furniture in Manlius, New York, a short drive from the Brewster Inn. 

Lake Cazenovia, New York

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