Three generations of Willets have devoted their lives to what we today recognize as Willet Hauser Architectural Glass®.
Studio founder William Willet was an American portrait painter, muralist, stained glass designer, studio owner and writer. An early proponent of the Gothic Revival and active in the Early School of American stained glass, he founded the Willet Stained Glass and Decorating Company - now Willet Hauser Architectural Glass® - with his wife and partner Anne Lee Willet, in protest against the opalescent pictorial windows which were the rage at the turn of the twentieth century. Before he began creating works in stained glass, William Willet was a portrait painter with a rather distinguished clientele. He painted portraits for President McKinley, John Jacob Astor, and many others. Willet was considered by many to be the foremost American stained glass designer at the time of his death in 1921.
After William’s untimely death his widow Anne assumed management of the studio, followed by their son Henry Lee in 1934. Henry favored the Gothic tradition, and inspired staff artists such as George Gugert and Marguerite Gaudin to produce its bolder styling in intense hues. Under Henry’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 Studio also developed the famous sculptured gold window technique and experimented with laminating stained glass, a technique known as Farbigem. Henry Lee Willet was an undeniably dynamic force in American stained glass until his death in 1983.
In 1965, his son E. Crosby Willet - who had worked at the studio since he was 14 years old - became the third generation President of Willet Studio. 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, DC and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco.
Mr. Willet has a lengthy list of unique accomplishments and commendations from stained glass, architectural and artistic organizations. In 2009, on behalf of the Stained Glass Association of America, Mr. Willet received the Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award - celebrating his lifelong pursuit of excellence in the art and craft of stained glass. His lifelong devotion to the studio his grandfather began continues today in his role as independent studio consultant for Willet Hauser Architectural Glass®.