Judson Studios: Artisanal Stained Glass

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.


The Studio
David Judson speaks about his great great grandfather William Lees Judson and the oldest family-owned stained glass studio in the United States.


William Lees Judson
Jean Stern on how W. L. Judson championed the Arts & Crafts movement through his work as a painter and craftsman in the Arroyo Seco.


The Arroyo Craftsmen Guild
David Judson speaks about W. L. Judson and George Wharton James organizing The Arroyo Guild of Fellow Craftsmen.


Idyllic for Plein Air
David Judson on how W. L. Judson captured the light of the Arroyo Seco in his landscape paintings.


Plein Air Development
David Judson on how W. L. Judson and the Arroyo Guild voiced their opposition to the urbanization and industrialization of the Arroyo Seco.


Judson versus Lummis
David Judson speaks about the differences in the philosophies of W. L. Judson and Charles Lummis, who both worked and lived along the Arroyo Seco.


William Lees Judson was born in Manchester, England, in 1842. He moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was 10 years old. | Image courtesy of David Judson
After studying art in New York and Paris and a brief career as a portrait artist in London, Ontario, he moved to Chicago, then finally to Los Angeles in 1893. | Image from Five Friendly Rivers: The Story of Greater Highland Park, Security Trust and Savings Bank, 1923.
After becoming USC's first fine art professor, Judson established the USC College of Fine Arts in Garvanza across from his home. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Archives
Classes met throughout the building, from a large parlor area indoors... | Image courtesy of David Judson
...to an outdoor lecture out in the patio. | Image courtesy of David Judson
Students take a break from classes on the porch. | Image courtesy of David Judson
In 1909, artist William Lees Judson and writer, scholar of the American Southwest (and rival of Charles Lummis) George Wharton James established The Arroyo Guild, a loosely structured "association of expert workers who design and make beautiful things," in the words of Judson. | Image from Arroyo Craftsman courtesy of David Judson
The Arroyo Craftsman was a short-lived (only one issue was published) journal published by the Arroyo Guild. | Image from Arroyo Craftsman courtesy of David Judson
Many of its advertisements were for Judson's own services, suggesting that there may not have been many official members besides the two founders. | Image from Arroyo Craftsman courtesy of David Judson
Which included an ad for the USC College of Fine Arts. | Image from Arroyo Craftsman courtesy of David Judson
William Lees Judson and George Wharton James, founders of the Arroyo Guild of Craftsmen, paint along the Colorado River. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Archives
A fire in 1910 destroyed much of the original structure of the school. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Students pose in front of the rubble. | Image courtesy of David Judson
The original structure was replaced by this new building, designed by architects Robert Farquhar Train and Robert Edmund Williams, loosely associated with the Arroyo Guild. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Students gather in front of the new building. | Image courtesy of David Judson
When the College of Fine Arts moved to its central campus after Judson's retirement in 1920, Judson Studios moved into the former school building in Garvanza. | Image courtesy of David Judson
Stained glass window made by Walter H. Judson in memory of his father, William Lees Judson. Formerly located in Exposision Park, it is believed to have been destroyed when the building was torn down. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Example of stained glass window made by Judson Studios. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Since 1997, David Judson has been runing the Judson Studios, the fifth generation Judson to do so. It is still located in the same building in Garvanza where William Lees Judson had taught many budding artists. | Photo by Departures