Stained Glass, the Willett-Hauser Way

General / People / Places / Products / January 16, 2014

Willett-Hauser Architectural Glass once may have competed with Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, but to paraphrase Faulkner, this company has not only survived, it has endured too.

“We outlasted them,” says John Phillips, whose Associated Crafts, Inc. recently acquired Willett-Hauser.

The company traces its roots back to 1897, during the heyday of stained glass as a decorative art form in America. LaFarge, whose work is on display at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., would die in 1910. Tiffany’s studio would continue to operate until 1933.

But Willett-Hauser and Associated Crafts have continued to create stained glass for churches and public spaces all along. Their installations can be found at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Ralph Adams Cram’s 1928 chapel at Princeton University.

The firm has a library with more than 19,000 designs on file, along with a team of designers and artisans skilled at painting glass.

“The painters are unequaled,” he says. “We’re blessed with a lot of painters who can execute the designs.”

Willett-Hauser’s consulting team usually meets with customers to identify tastes and wants, then matches them up with a designer who’ll develop a concept, and with a librarian to choose content and style. Once it’s accepted, the design goes into the studio to be executed by master painters, glaziers and other craftspeople.

“The typical Willett-Hauser work is hand-painted,” he says. “Some of it’s very traditional work, but it’s also very modern, like the viewing window in the chapel for the hospital in Tulsa.”

And then there’s the preservation work: “We restore historic pieces by Tiffany and LaFarge,” he says. “I’m going to look at one by La Farge in Philadelphia today.”

Chances are, he’ll get the job.

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Mike Welton

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on February 17, 2014

This is an absolutely marvelous review of their stained glass. They have done decorative glass right. Incredible skill and creativity used in these windows. Thanks for the great post!

on January 17, 2014

Glad to see major studios here in USA following Germany’s lead developing the designer/fabricator relationship. In-house designers tendencies to duplicate designs are found in too many prominent locations as it is.

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