Willet Hauser Architectural Glass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Predecessor Willet Studios (1898),
Hauser Art Glass, Co. (1946)
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Winona, Minnesota
Area served
North American and Abroad
Services Design, Fabrication and Restoration of Architectural Stained Glass Windows
Website Willet Hauser Architectural Glass

Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc is a North American stained glass firm that specializes in the design, fabrication, and restoration of leaded stained glass and faceted glass windows with locations in Winona, Minnesota and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The studio, one of the oldest in North America, was formed through the merger of two American stained glass studios: the Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Hauser Art Glass Company, Inc., located in Winona, Minnesota. The two united in 1977 and together are one of the largest stained glass studios in North America. In 2005 the company changed its name to Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc., to more accurately reflect the long-term direction of the studio.[1] On January 9, 2014, the Arizona-based national stained glass studio Associated Crafts® acquired Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc..[2] To date, Willet Hauser has created and/or restored windows in over 15,000 buildings located throughout the world.[3]


Willet Studios[edit]

Willet Studios was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1898 by the muralist and stained glass artist William Willet and his wife, Anne Lee. In its inception, the studio went by the title of the Willet Stained Glass Company and by 1909, had been incorporated as the Willet Stained Glass and Decorating Company. By 1921, the firm was self-identified as "An organization of artists, designers, and craftsmen in ecclesiastical and domestic art. . . Devoted to the making of windows and decorations in the spirit and technique of the best European work of the Middle Ages." and listed the following within its oeuvre: Memorial Windows, Mural Paintings, Mosaics, Leaded Glass, Stations of the Cross, Altars, Triptychs, Fonts, Bronze Tablets, Tapestries, Interior Decorations of all descriptions as well as Portraits on Glass or Canvas and Miniatures.[4]

Anne Lee and their son, Henry Lee, took over the studio after William's death in 1921.[5] Under Henry's guidance, the company expanded from a regional business to a studio of national and international renown, with completed projects in all fifty states and fourteen foreign countries.[6] Under Henry Lee's guidance, the studio experimented with new techniques, and in the 1950s, was one of the first American studios to design and fabricate faceted glass windows. Willet Studios also developed the famous sculptured gold window technique and experimented with various methods of laminating stained glass, a technique known as Farbigem.[7] In 1971, the Franklin Institute awarded Henry Lee Willet the Frank P. Brown Medal.

In 1965, E. Crosby Willet, the son of Henry Lee Willet, became the third generation president of Willet Studios. Under his leadership, Willet windows were created for many of the major churches and cathedrals in the United States including the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco.[1]

Hauser Art Glass Company[edit]

The Hauser Art Glass Company, another long-standing American stained glass studio, was founded in 1946 by James E. Hauser in Winona, Minnesota. It was originally opened as a repair and restoration studio, focused on serving small, remote churches, after Hauser recognized an opportunity to aid many American churches whose stained glass windows had fallen into neglect and disrepair during the Second World War.

As the firm's projects became larger and more complex, a number of glass artists specializing in the replication of different design styles joined the studio. The firm eventually began creating moderately priced windows for neighborhood churches as well as windows for hotels, restaurants, and private homes. However, its main specialty remained the repair and restoration of existing stained glass, including those by Connick Studios, Tiffany Studios, John La Farge, Henry Wynd Young, Franz Mayer of Munich, and Innsbruck Studios.[1]


In the 1960s, when the industry began a movement toward contemporary design, Henry and Crosby Willet experimented in new styles and techniques including faceted glass, Farbigem (laminated glass), sculptured gold, mosaics, and sandcarving or sandblasting.[8]


The Willet Studio introduced the Dutch technique of Farbigem to the United States in 1966, after a visit to the Amsterdam glass factory known as Glas-Industrie Van Tetterode. Research and development was carried out at the studio from 1967 into the 1980s.

In the process of Farbigem a base plate is made by sandwiching plexiglass between two layers of glass. On this surface, layer upon layer of glass can be built up in all different directions. Designs can be traditional or abstract. The pieces are held together by a crystal clear, flexible adhesive that was developed in the Netherlands which allowed the glass to naturally expand and contract. Entire walls could be designed in decorative thicknesses of glass. The farbigem technique eventually fell out of favor due the deficient technology of the adhesive which, with time, allowed the multiple layers of glass to separate. Changes in aesthetic taste also contributed to its decline. Today, windows similar to the farbigem technique are fabricated in stained glass studios under the name "Laminated Glass".

Sculptured gold windows[edit]

Henry Willet created the first sculptured gold window between 1948-49. When first devised, the sculptured gold overlay was based on leaded stained glass windows. Later, faceted glass set in epoxy resin was used. These glasses, about an inch in thickness, but possibly up to two inches for special effects, contribute great brilliance of color under transmitted daylight. The sheet lead overlay is formed in relief by repousse (literally "beaten up from the underside") to give a sculptured effect, and is also incised with slits of varying widths to let the richly colored glass background shine through in the daytime. The fact that the sculptured lead surface has been "flown" with 23 carat gold leaf is the secret of the brilliant metallic night effect. The appearance of silver can also be obtained by the use of palladium leaf, which does not tarnish. The first gold window installed in a church, known as the Glory Window, was designed by Henry Lee Willet and Marguerite Gaudin in 1951 for Westwood Community Church in Los Angeles, California.

Notable commissions[edit]

Cadet Chapel[edit]

Sanctuary Window, Graduate Chapel, West Point, New York

In 1910, William Willet was invited to compete for the design and installation of the Great Sanctuary Window in the Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ten other designers, including Nicola D'Ascenzo and Tiffany Studios joined Willet in this international competition.[9] In 1911, the studio was granted the commission of the Sanctuary window, a memorial to the graduates of the Military Academy.[10] The project for the design and fabrication of the Nave and North windows was awarded to the Willet Studio. The master plan for the nave windows, which were sponsored by individual classes in the hopes that every class would eventually be represented,[10] was devised by Bertram Goodhue, William Willet, Colonel C.W. Larned and Chaplain Edward S. Travers. The window program depicts familiar stories of the Old and New Testament, as well as stories of saints from the early church. The north window, also designed and fabricated by the studio, is a memorial to the alumni who died in World War I.

The commission, which spanned three generations of Willets over a period of sixty-six years, remains the longest continuing commission in American history.[11]

Hall of Science and Technology[edit]

The Hall of Science was designed in 1962 by Wallace Harrison for the 1964 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Harrison modeled the 80-foot-tall (24 m) building after the Kaiser Wilhelm Tower in Berlin, Germany - a 100-foot (30 m) faceted glass tower composed of deep blue faceted glass. Harrison's cornerless serpentine shaped Hall of Science is made up of 5,400 coffers, each 2 feet (0.61 m) wide and 3 feet (0.91 m) tall. The Willet Studio, under Henry Lee Willet's guidance, was commissioned to construct the 5,400 panels that form the walls in less than one years time.[12] Each panel is composed of thick chunks of blue faceted glass held together by cement. Twenty to 30 different shades of blue glass, imported from France and the Blenko Glass Company of Milton, West Virginia, were used in the project. The blue light, which engulfs the interior, symbolizes the heavens and carries out the theme, "Rendezvous in Space."[13]

Metropolitan Transportation Authority[edit]

Arts for Transit is a program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City that encourages the use of public transit by presenting visual and performing arts projects in subway and commuter rail stations. As a part of the overall project, neighborhood artists working in various media are invited to compete for projects in nearby stations. In 1998 Willet Hauser was selected to fabricate faceted stained glass panels based on the winning designs of many of these artists. The project is one of the largest projects in the studio's history.

Contributing artists and designers[edit]

Studio designers[edit]

Anthony Mako, Columcille Sharkey, Dietrich Spahn, Eric Sundean, Charles Z. Lawrence, Marguerite Gaudin, Odell "Billie" Prather, Benoit Gilsoul, Kenneth Crocker, Adam Smith, Jane Collins, and Mark Khaisman have all worked with the studio.[14]

Other media[edit]

Ben Shahn, Frank Shoonover, Franklin Watkins, György Kepes, Jacob Landau, Ralph Pallen Coleman, Sadao Watanabe, Ellen Miret, David Pushkin, Max Abramovitz, Wallace Harrison have worked with the studio in other media.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Studio History and Biographies. Willet Hauser Architectural Glass Archives & Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  2. ^ John Phillips. "America's Stained Glass Window Heritage Companies Come Together as Associated Crafts Acquires Willett Hauser". PRWeb Online Visibility from Vocus. 10 Jan. 2014
  3. ^ Pazulski, Kristin. "Local stained glass firm continues 108-year tradition of craftsmanship." Chestnut Hill Local 9 Nov. 2006.
  4. ^ Willet, William. Book of Results of the Willet Stained Glass and Decorating Company, Philadelphia: Willet Stained Glass and Decorating Co. (1921)
  5. ^ "Anne Lee Willet, 1867-1943." Stained Glass Quarterly. Spring 1943
  6. ^ Pazulski, Kristin. "Local stained glass firm continues 108-year tradition of craftsmanship". Chestnut Hill Local. 9 Nov. 2006
  7. ^ "Stained Glass Artist Henry Lee Willet." Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 1983.
  8. ^ Waggoner, Shawn. "Crosby Willet and Willet Stained Glass Studios: Three Generations of Glass for the Ages." Glass Art, Jan/Feb 2003:57
  9. ^ Farnsworth, Jean M. Stained Glass in Catholic Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's University Press, 2002.
  10. ^ a b Pappas, George S. The Cadet Chapel: United States Military Academy. West Point, New York: U.S.M.A., 1987.
  11. ^ Parente, Leigh Anne. "The St. Martin's Commission. The Willet Stained Glass Studio's Largest Commission (Yet)." The Stained Glass Quarterly 101:4 (2006):278.
  12. ^ Waggoner, Shawn. "Crosby Willet and Willet Stained Glass Sudios: Three Generations of Glass for the Ages." Glass Art, Jan/Feb 2003:58
  13. ^ Long, Tania. "Hall of Science Studies Lighting." The New York Times, 7 Oct. 1964.
  14. ^ http://www.khaismanstudio.com/ Mark Khaisman

External links[edit]