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William Lees Judson, a skilled painter and craftsman, initially came to Garvanza to seek a milder climate more suitable for his weakening health. Not only did the move helped him regain his health, Judson also found an inspiring natural setting filled with light and beauty. He fell in love with the area and used his skill with light not only to paint the landscape but also to create beautiful stained glass for homes and new buildings throughout Los Angeles.
In 1897, the Colonial Glass Company was founded by William Lees Judson's three sons, near the Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. Meanwhile William Lees Judson founded the College of Fine Arts in Garvanza. The the campus became a gathering place for artists and craftsmen, also serving as home to the Arroyo Guild of Fellow Craftsman, an arts collective founded by Judson and scholar George Wharton James.
When William Lees Judson retired as the Dean of the College of Fine Arts in 1920 and it moved to USC's main campus (the College had been part of USC since 1901), the building was purchased by the younger Judsons to house their burgeoning stained glass business, which soon became known as Judson Studios.
Judson Studios remains a powerful force in the artisinal community to this day. As downtown Los Angeles goes through a resurgence, the studio finds itself busy with restoration of Judson Studios stained glass created in the early part of the 20th century.
David Judson, the great-great grandson of William Lees Judson, now heads the studio, which is still located in its original building in Garvanza. It is now the oldest family owned stained glass studio in the nation.
Above, the legacy of William Lees Judson, painter, educator, and leader in the Arroyo Arts & Crafts Movement is recounted by his great-great-grandson, David Judson, and art historian, Jean Stern. Below, see a slideshow of historical images.