Rowan LeCompte, born in Baltimore on March 17, 1925; died in Waynesboro, Virginia, February 11, 2014.
Designer of more than 40 Washington National stained glass windows, LeCompte, at age 16, sold his first design for a small chapel window to Washington National Cathedral’s architect Phillip Hubert Frohman for the sum of $100. He went on to design more windows, including the West and East Rose Windows at the Cathedral.
LeCompte served in the army and took part in the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Paris. Largely self-taught in the realm of stained glass, LeCompte’s focus on medieval art — especially stained glass art — was undertaken not simply to recreate the past but to allow contemporary stained glass to assert itself as a great modern art. LeCompte saw three attributes of a stained glass window as supreme in the success of that installation: clarity, richness, and sparkle. The validity of this theory of stained glass can be seen in LeCompte’s abstract rose window at the Washington National Cathedral.
According to the Washington Post, LeCompte “recalled that when his rose window was unveiled, a young girl danced in the colored light that poured onto the floor within the cathedral. When asked what she was doing, she said, ‘I’m dancing because I found the end of the rainbow.’”
Associated Crafts Acquires Willet Hauser
The stained glass business has a long, rich history in communities across the country and around the world. Stained glass windows being most prevalent in churches, this business is often at the nexus of a community where the artisan craftsmen who create unique new windows and restore stained glass windows work with the church to meet the needs of their congregations.
While many companies have worked on church windows through the years, only a small number of companies make up what is known as the stained glass industry. Two of those companies have joined, and now they are about to embark on a whole new relationship.
Willet Studios was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1898, while the Hauser Art Glass Company was founded in 1946 in Winona, Minnesota. The two united in 1977 as Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, Inc., one of the largest stained glass studios in North America. Willet Hauser has focussed on the stained glass needs of large churches and in public art projects. Willet Hauser has created or restored windows in more than 15,000 buildings located throughout the world.
In 1974, they hired a salesman to service a territory of those churches. Eventually John Phillips, Sr., started his own company, where his son learned the business. That son even worked with the Hausers at Willet Hauser. Nearly twenty years later, in April 1997, that son, John Phillips Jr., formed Associated Crafts in Arizona with his wife Mary Phillips, to become one of the fastest-growing national stained glass studios specializing in preserving America’s art glass heritage. Associated Crafts has a national reach with operations in Arizona, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.
Recently, Associated Crafts acquired Willet Hauser.
“We are delighted that the Phillips family, whom we have known for more than 40 years, will continue the traditions and legacy of the Willet and Hauser families,” said Mike Hauser.
Understanding the importance of community and wanting to keep jobs in Winona and Philadelphia, Willet Hauser’s two locations, the local bank was able to support this transaction.
“Winona National Bank is pleased to be an integral partner in this transaction. We are happy to bring another national company to Winona that is dedicated to keeping jobs in our community,” said Chad Andersen, AVP Business Banking Officer.
The Phillips family is looking forward to bringing together the heritage of the Willet Hauser brand with the innovation of Associated Crafts to further service churches across the country and around the world. “It’s my pleasure for my family to continue our tradition of stained glass craftsmanship at Associated Crafts with the acquisition of Willet Hauser Studios,” said John Phillips, CEO.
Lamb Studio Receives Craftsmanship Award
Donald Samick, President of J&R Lamb Studios, received the Craftsmanship Award from the Washington Building Congress on behalf of Lamb Studio on March 21, 2014. This award was given for excellence in craftsmanship in the restoration of the Dahlgren Chapel stained glass windows of Georgetown University.
Dahlgren Chapel was constructed in 1893 and was the sixth building on the Georgetown University campus. Age and structural settlement had caused major damage to the stained glass windows, which were removed for restoration at Lamb Studio.
Crystal Bridges Museum Acquires Frank Lloyd Wright House, Preserves an Architectural Treasure
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has acquired a rare Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house, known as the Bachman Wilson House, located in the Borough of Millstone in Somerset County, N.J. Built in 1954 along the Millstone River, the house has been encroached upon by the river and surrounding landscape over the past decades. Due to repeated flooding, the house has sustained significant damage and relocation has been recommended as a means of best preserving the structure. The owners conducted a multi-year search for a purchaser that could provide an appropriate setting and context for the historic building. Crystal Bridges has now acquired the home, which will be disassembled and moved to Bentonville. There, it will be reassembled on Crystal Bridges’ 120-acre grounds.
At Crystal Bridges, the house will be available for study as well as for limited programming and tours. Crystal Bridges’ educational and public program offerings include an architectural focus that will be enhanced through the addition of the Bachman Wilson House to Crystal Bridges’ grounds. Thanks to an ongoing partnership with the University of Arkansas, Crystal Bridges anticipates additional development of educational programs specifically related to the university’s Fay Jones School of Architecture.
“We’re honored to be able to preserve and share this significant example of American architecture, as Frank Lloyd Wright’s work embodies our own mission of celebrating art and nature,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow. “The Usonian concept was intended to provide access to architectural quality for all families, which melds well with our philosophy of welcoming all to view American masterworks in our natural setting.”
In 1954, Abraham Wilson and Gloria Bachman (husband and wife) commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home. Gloria’s brother, Marvin Bachman, was an apprentice in the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Fellowship.
Wilson and Bachman wrote to Wright, asking him to design a house for them, and later met with the architect at the Plaza Hotel in New York, while he was working on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The resulting design reflects Wright’s Usonian period: a work of art in simplicity and form, representing organic design principles.
When the recent owners, architect/ designer team Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, purchased the property in 1988, the home had previously flooded multiple times. The Tarantinos painstakingly restored the house, using original construction documents from the Frank Lloyd Wright archives. They have both preserved and restored historic elements, and realized original elements of the Wright design that had previously been altered or eliminated. The Tarantino’s restoration work has been lauded with multiple awards: in 2008, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy awarded the project the Wright Spirit Award; in 2009, the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects created a Preservation Merit Award to recognize their achievement; and Somerset County, N.J. gave the project a Historic Preservation Award.
There is a strong indication that flooding on the property is increasing both in intensity and frequency, threatening the house itself and its viability as a residence. Citing their protracted battle with floodwaters, the owners decided to put the house on the market in 2012. The sale, however, was conditional upon moving the house to a suitable natural site.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an international organization based in Chicago to facilitate the preservation and maintenance of the remaining structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright through education, advocacy, preservation easements and technical services, supports this plan of action to save the structure. The Borough of Millstone Historic District Commission in Millstone, N.J. also supports moving the house, citing its removal will not affect the Millstone Historic District.
The sale of the house includes all the fixtures and furniture designed for it. A specialized contractor will be secured for the methodical process of dismantling the house, under the supervision of the Tarantinos, for moving to Arkansas where it will be reconstructed to Frank Lloyd Wright’s original specifications. The Tarantinos will oversee the packing of every building component, built-in furnishings and furniture, which will be carefully loaded into container trucks, transported and reconstructed on site.
Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. has donated its services to transport the Bachman Wilson House to Bentonville. “We are honored to be a part of such a monumental effort to save one of America’s truly iconic structures,” said John Roberts, President and CEO of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. “We are pleased the house will settle within our area’s natural beauty and provide such valuable educational opportunities.”
According to the Tarantinos, the home’s architectural form can best be described as Pavilion-style, with a tall masonry wall providing privacy from the public-side approach, and a dramatic open floor plan revealing horizontal and vertical planes that pass through the space to the outside.
“The southeast facade consists of 16-foot-tall by 54-foot-long mahogany-framed glazed panels with alternating sets of out-swinging double doors surrounding much of the living/dining area, and provides a passive solar transparency while sharing the opportunity to feel one with nature,” said Lawrence Tarantino. “The Bachman Wilson House goes far beyond providing shelter. It’s an exercise in architecture for architecture’s sake that represents a culmination of principles Wright embraced and developed throughout his long, prolific career.”