Roycroft Campus - Table of Contents.............. Arts & Crafts - Table of Contents

Roycroft Inn
40 South Grove St. , East Aurora, NY
Roycroft Restoration Corp. - Home Page

Visitor, Rental Information

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations to enlarge




Roycroft Inn
Furnishings and
stained glass windows


Elbert Hubbard in front of his home and the site of the future Roycroft Inn.
Circa 1896.


C. 1930 postcard


First Roycroft Shop 1897-1900

Elbert Hubbard (1857-1915), the individual responsible for the development of the grounds and buildings known as the "Roycroft Campus," started working for the Larkin Soap Company in 1875 as the junior partner in charge of sales and advertising. In 1893, he left the Larkin Company's employ and, sustained by a sizable monetary settlement from the company, pursued his goal to become a writer. He first earned literary notoriety from his stories entitled "Little Journeys," based on visits to the homes of famous people.

In 1899, less than two years after Hubbard began creating the Roycroft Campus, he was propelled to worldwide fame and renewed financial wealth with the publication of his essay entitled, "A Message to Garcia." The "Message," which stressed loyalty to one's benefactor, was so popular and so frequently reprinted by businesses and institutions, that it became one of the world's most widely published literary works alongside the Bible and the dictionary. As a direct result of this success, he was able to further augment his development of the Roycroft Campus.

Hubbard's first wife, Bertha Crawford Hubbard (1861-1935), aided in the development of her husband's literary style, as well as in the creation of the initial Roycroft Campus and the ensuing arts and crafts produced here.

Hubbard's second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard (1861-1915), managed the Roycroft Shops in later years and was renowned as an accomplished author and passionate proponent of women's rights.

Both Elbert and Alice perished on the S.S. Lusitania when it sank off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915 after being torpedoed by a German U-boat.

Hubbard's first printing experience was with The Philistine magazine, a publication initially produced in cooperation with Henry P. Taber and William McIntosh in early 1895 at the Pendennis Press, White & Wagoner Company, located in the Regulator Building on East Main Street in East Aurora. Hubbard acquired ownership of The Philistine magazine and the Roycroft Press from Taber on November 19, 1895.

Although this periodical was controversial, it became immensely popular as evidenced by its eventual subscription base of over one hundred thousand readers. In 1896, Hubbard continued the Roycroft printing operations at the Regulator Building with the publication of the first Roycroft book, "The Song of Songs."

By 1898, all printing operations moved to this South Grove Street location -- today the Roycroft Inn --where the production of limited edition, signed and numbered, master-crafted books continued. Hubbard's publishing business flourished, in part, due to his claims that the exclusivity of Roycroft books would increase their value over time. During the forty-three year existence of the Roycroft under Hubbard family leadership, an array of handcrafted objects, ranging from simplistically refined to artistically complex, were fabricated with European undertones in product lines of furniture, copper and iron wares, leather items, textiles, basketry, pottery and fine arts. Additionally, the Roycroft printing and bookbinding operation grew to be one of the most recognized private printing institutions in America.

1897/98 (First Campus Print Shop - Later the Roycroft Inn Reception Room)

The portion of the Roycroft Inn located directly to the left where guests enter through the heavy, motto-carved, oak door leading from the peristyle, or porch, into the Inn was initially the only structure at this location and the first to be constructed on the Campus. Hubbard's original intent with this building was to create a medieval guild-like, arts and crafts and printing institution, in similarity to revival establishments prevalent in England during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

From 1897 to 1900, this original portion of the Roycroft Inn was simply known as the Roycroft Shop, or Chapel, in accordance with the historical definition of the word "chapel" as a place of printing.

Groundbreaking commenced October 12, 1897 and construction costs of just over three thousand dollars provided for the original structure to be styled in the fashion of St. Oswald's Church in Grasmere, England. This country Gothic style was reminiscent of the architecture Hubbard encountered during a series of trips he took to Europe in the 1890's.

The most notable of these journeys, where he obtained many of his ideas, was his tour of the famed Kelmscott Press in England, where he claimed to have met its renowned founder, William Morris.

The first shop's exterior appearance was characterized in the local newspaper as, "shingled and stained the color of slate with a moss green roof surmounted by a small cupola." It was completed and ready for use as a print shop during the week of January 15, 1898.

Two years later, it was converted into the Phalanstery dining room. In 1905, it housed the Roycroft Bank and may also have served, in part, as a cabinet shop between the printing operation's relocation to the new Roycroft Print Shop across the street in 1900-1901 and the construction of the Furniture Shop in 1904. The structure became the Roycroft Inn Reception Room about the time the Inn opened in 1905.


1898/99 (Oak Room and Artist's Work-quarters - Later the Roycroft Inn Library, Morris Room and Ruskin Room)

One of the most dramatic configurations added to this structure was the three-story, tower attachment located at the rear of the first building. This addition contained a roof top cupola that architecturally complimented the arched Gothic windows in the original structure's design.

The interior decor of the entire complex boasted wainscoting accented with medieval-inspired, gas light fixtures and fireplaces of stone and brick crafted by Roycroft artisans. The hearths were equipped with andirons wrought by Roycroft blacksmiths in the fashion of artist W. W. Denslow's seahorse emblem, a symbol with which the Roycroft name eventually became synonymous.

The large basement of the structure originally housed the printing presses, while the three rooms in the tower served as work-quarters for book illuminators, illustrators and artists before their eventual move to the new Chapel that was to be built across the street.

The first Roycroft art director, Samuel Warner, designed most of the early title pages of Roycroft books and also aided in the development of the graphic arts department. Renowned Roycroft book illuminators and illustrators included: Alta Fattey, Minnie Gardner, Beulah Hood, Bertha Hubbard, Lawrence Mazzanovich, Harriet Robarge, Clare Schlegel and famed "Wizard of Oz" artist W.W. Denslow, when in residence. The first floor of the tower room was originally called the Oak Room and was used for china