The Sturdy-Lange Company, Los Angeles

Photo Courtesy of The Greene and Greene Archives,
Gamble House, University of Southern California.

This page is about a lesser known studio that played an important role in the creation of the Greene and Greene interpretation of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Little is also known about The Sturdy-Lange Company itself, including basic knowledge of its size, number of employees, the employee names and the company's customers other than the Greenes. Information on the two founders is sketchy at best but cursory searching of ancestral public records does provide some detail. Much of Sturdy and Lange's background has already been covered in an excellent book: A New & Native Beauty, edited by Edward R. Bosely and Anne E. Mallek, published by Merrell, ISBN-10: 185894452X.

In addition to editing this book, Bosely and Mallek were among several authors, each providing a specific aspect of Greene & Greene's work. Sturdy-Lange glass work was important, and their lamps, made in conjunction with designs from the Greene's and remarkable woodwork engineered by the Hall brothers, at least need to be acknowledged in this website.

So far, only one employee name has come to light, Claus Willenberg, and cursory research shows him as being only 18 at the time Sturdy-Lange were at their peak, so likely an appprentice at that point. In 1917, his draft card shows him as a stained glass designer at Judson Art Glass Company, ultimately living until the age of 97. It seems he was primarily a window painter.

Spring 2016

New information has kindly been sent to me by a number of sources, the first was Jim Kaas. Emil Lange was Jim's Great Grandfather. In addition to providing wonderful additional photos of Emil, and daughters, (see the section on Emil), it was confirmed that in conversation with his mother, Joan Lange, Emil's Grand Daughter, Emil Lange is the individual on the left of this photo, sporting his rather unique hat. It is very likely, that Harry Sturdy is the one on the right although this has yet to be confirmed.

On a tip from Jim that a 2008 newsletter by the Scott County Historic Preservation Society in Davenport IA attributed some windows in St. Anthony's Church to Lange. I contacted them for further details. It seemed there was now a possibility that Emil was already involved in stained glass before moving to California. I was fortunate to be contacted by Colleen Powers, researcher at Scott County Historic Preservation Society . She came through and started following up immediately, providing interesting information about Lange's activity in Davenport including a trail of inquiry that led to spectacular window there.

Colleen additionally came up with the following about the 1906 incorporation of Sturdy-Lange Company, Incorporation of the company was apparently documented in a short newspaper clipping from 1906. The Los Angeles Herald appears to have made a few errors in the names of Emil and Emile Lange but this clipping does also open the door to further research on A. H. Stibolt. The following is a quoted extract from Colleen, with some interesting possibilities between Sturdy-Lange and Stibolt.

"I did find a possible clue to the meeting of Sturdy & Lange. Ancestry has a family tree for Harry Sturdy. The 1906 Incorporation of Sturdy-Lange was included in the tree.  It contains spelling errors, but one of the names on the Board of Directors was familiar to me...another prominent German family in Davenport...A.H. Stibolt. Arthur Henry Stibolt was born in April 1880 in Davenport, son of John Stibolt & Louisa Hass Stibolt. In the 1898-99 city directory his occupation is listed as designer at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. In 1900-01 city directory, he is manager of a company named Church Glass & Decorating Co & his brother John P. Stibolt is working with him. The 1900 census in Davenport lists both as "church glass designers." Neither is listed in the 1902-03 directory."

sturdy-lange incorporation-1906

"In the 1909 LA city directory, A. Henrik Stibolt is listed as designer with Holtzclaw Allen & Co. Interestingly, Harry Sturdy is listed as foreman at Holtzclaw-Stubbs-Shriner Co in 1911 in LA. It appears that Harry Sturdy met A.H. Stibolt in LA. Perhaps c1902-03 Stibolt went to LA & continued working in the glass business. Arthur H. Stibolt is also listed as an architect in 1909 in San Diego. He is living there with his brother John P. and mother Louisa, widow of John P. Sr. 1910...San Diego...architect with brother-in-law, Gustav H. Hanssen; 1912...LA...architect; 1913...LA...architect with G. M. Pardee; 1914 & 1915...San Diego...architect; 1918 no occupation listed but res. 2425 Bath, Santa Barbara CA."

"Arthur Henry Stibolt died 1 Aug. 1930 in San Diego and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Cem in Glendale CA."

"In Davenport, the Stibolt, Hass & Hanssen families intermarried. Emil Lange would certainly have known these families. In fact, when Emil's mother & sister Ella moved from their house in East Davenport to north central Davenport by 1915, (2314 Harrison), Louis Hanssen lived at 2322 & Emil's sister Adele & husband, Dr. H.G. Pape lived at 2326...three houses in a row built about that time. Perhaps A.H. Stibolt went to LA, met Sturdy in the glass business, contacted Emil & asked him if he would like to come to LA to act as business manager/partner in the Sturdy-Lange Co. incorporated in 1906."

Louise Thornton responded to me after I reached out to her on Ancestry.com. She updated me on Harry Sturdy's activity since leaving Sturdy-Lange and ultimate demise. Harry Sturdy is Louise's sister-in-law's Great Grandfather. So far at least, no additional photos or family lore regarding Harry have surfaced.


Harry Sturdy

Harry Sturdy was a Canadian born of English parents, December 2nd 1869 in Guelph. He came to the U.S in 1885 at the age of just 16. There are records that show him marrying a Mary L. Leahy (b.1873 in Nebraska) in 1897. Mary's father was Irish, her mother was American. Census information for 1900 show them living in Chicago and no doubt, Harry working in the booming Art Glass industry there. It would be interesting to know his employer in Chicago. In 1910, they are listed as living in Los Angeles, with the census listing Harry as a designer / decorator. They had three sons, Herbert F. Francis (1902 - 1969), Frederick H. Sturdy (1909 - ), and Paul E. Sturdy (1911 - 1977)

  • Harry and Holtzclaw, 1911

Given that the Sturdy-Lange Company was already writing invoices towards the end of 1909, it seems to indicate that Sturdy and Lange already had a well established business and Sturdy would have made the transition from Chicago to Los Angeles at some point between 1900 and 1910.

U.S City Directory shows him in Los Angeles in 1905. In 1906, the Sturdy-Lange Company was formed with Stiboltand Lange. By February of 1910, Sturdy-Lange invoices indicate that Sturdy appears to no longer be with the Company. 1910 was evidently a busy time for him and the family as he also petitioned for U.S. Citizenship during that year.

In 1911, his name appears in a newspaper advertisement for Barker Brothers which announces that Barker Brothers had brought J. B. Hotlzclaw on board from HoltzClaw and Allen, decorators. So, it confirms that Harry Sturdy was working at Holtzclaw prior to this new engagement with Barker Brothers.

1913 saw the subsequent granting of U.S. citizenship. That same year sees him living at 146 Norton Avenue.

Louise Thornton noted that Harry died on October 17th, 1913. He is buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California.

Quite by chance, while visiting the Wrigley Mansion in February of 2016, I noticed a letter on a corridor wall from a law firm in Los Angeles, it was dated 1930 and signed by Herbert Sturdy, one of Harry's 3 sons. Herbert Sturdy went on to work in the entertainment field including a role as a Trustee and Executor of the Walt Disney Estate.

Sources have indicated that Harry may have been the more creative of the two principals, Lange being a businessman first and foremost. Their working relationship is a subject for further research.


Emil Lange

Recently, James Kaas forwarded me several family photos of Emil Lange and family during the years before the move to California. Emil and Emma Stracke were married 20th Septermber 1893. Edward Hagemann and the Stracke family were good friends subsequently when Emil left Emma and she committed suicide, Edward Hagemann took in Emma's daughters, who were in turn raised in the Hagemann house thereafter

  • Emil Lange, date unknown. <br> Photo © James Kaas, 2016
  • Emil Lange, Wedding Day. <br> Photo © James Kaas, 2016
  • Emils's Daughters, Vera (left) and Agnes. <br> Photo © James Kaas, 2016
  • Emil as a young man

Colleen Powers also sent images of a stained glass window that was attributed to Lange and installed in a Davenport mansion. There is a possibility that this was not the only Lange window to be found in the area. Colleen's detective work led from St Anthony's Church in search of windows with a possible connection to Lange to a dead-end, the Church parish had no records or dates of their windows Although this did not materialize, it did lead to a subsequent meeting at Glass Heritage, in Davenport in which a file of several images of a window were discovered. The file was marked Emil Lange. After more research, it was established that the photos were from a house on River Drive near the Davenport / Bettendorf city line. Thanks to Mac at Glass Heritage for your help in researching the source of the images.

Colleen then drove to the neighborhood and discovered the house, a large mansion on Forest Road. This window, although terrific, would have been typical of the period and perhaps made by any number of Art Glass firms had it not been for one particular area of the window that featured overlays of sheet leading to represent bark and other textures, lower right area of the window, something that Sturdy-Lange were known for during their projects with Greene and Greene.

The house was built around 1914, so Sturdy would not have been in the picture, being deceased in 1913, but this strongly indicates that Lange was still connected to Iowa and perhaps doing other work for contacts previously made when he lived there.

For additional coverage, read Julie Sloan's excellent coverage of Emil Lange's career, "A New Native Beauty" p.171-173. There still remains much to discover, including how Lange and Sturdy met, exactly what their roles were, how hands-on they were, their creative versus administrative abilities, and what lead to Harry Sturdy's departure from the company.

Given that Stibolt played a role in Sturdy-Lange, it does offer the opportunity for further research on the company. It's surprising that todate, not a single photo of Harry Sturdy has come to light. They must exist, perhaps in old shoe boxes of descendants, hopefully not discarded over time.


The Glass

During the preparation of this new page, I was fortunate to be in contact with John Hamm, the glass artist from California. John has been instrumental in the restoration of important stained glass fixtures, lighting and other elements in the Greene and Greene homes, including those at the Gamble House, and Blacker House. When it comes to the glass used by Sturdy-Lange, John had these interesting comments:

"There is no Tiffany Glass in any of Sturdy and Lange’s work. Tiffany did not sell sheet glass. They made tons of styles of sheet glass, but for Tiffany Studios consumption. We do know for a fact that Tiffany used Kokomo Opalescent Glass, from Kokomo IN. I have seen invoices from the sales. Huge quantities.

From research stemming out of my restoration of G&G pieces dating back to 1990-91, I discovered that there is definitely Kokomo glass in the Greene’s work. There is no record accounting for this but there is certainly a lot of KOK. There were a number of colored sheet glass manufactures in the country circa 1907-08, and they may have been used by Sturdy and Lange, but I have tracked down a number of styles of Kokomo from the Greene’s work that Kokomo still makes, or has examples of in their archives,which of course go back to 1888. And these matches are exact. We also know that Kokomo produced iridescent glass and that may have come from them as well.

I just did this sort of matching, old to new Kokomo, again a couple of months ago. Working with Kokomo I matched some glass for a restoration of a major piece from a G&G house 1905-06. And it is spot on. So all of that is very interesting of course, but very telling. Glass from one maker to the next is, and was always, very different and so distinctive. In any glass there are tells which indicate who made it. And if you know what to look for it is apparent.

Randell made an incorrect connection with a different Lange, a David Lang, who did work for Tiffany, (Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany, Rebel in Glass p.80). But we know now from Joan Kaas, Emil’s grand daughter, that Emil never lived in N.Y. City or the state, and never worked for Tiffany.

There is Tiffany Glass in the G.H., but they are pieces that Mary Gamble brought from Ohio and placed in the house herself. This of course furthers the confusion."

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Ann Scheid, Curator at the Greene and Greene archives, and Edward Bosley for granting permission to use images from the Greene & Greene archives.
Thanks to James Kaas for the Lange family updates and wonderful photos and also Colleen Powers for her research in Davenport. Thanks also to Louise Thornton for her updates on Harry Sturdy.

Photo Courtesy of The Greene and Greene Archives, Gamble House, University of Southern California. Visit The Archives Here

A rare and undated photo of Emil Lange (left) working with an as yet, unamed craftsman, but is likely to be Harry Sturdy. We can assume that his was taken at the Studio on East Ninth Street in Los Angeles. The Japanese Parasol hanging from the ceiling perhaps served as inspiration as Japanese influence in architecture and art in general was strong during this period and particularly embraced by the Greenes.

Although predominantly serving the needs of the Arts and Crafts movement, the collection of cartoons, illustrations and patterns on the wall would indicate that the Company were not limited to business coming from the Greenes. In the image below, one can clearly see on the right hand side of the wall a couple of Prairie Style cartoons for windows. This offers additional research opportunities to find other architects and builders that used Sturdy-Lange services.

Photo Courtesy of The Greene and Greene Archives, Gamble House, University of Southern California. Visit The Archives Here

AN IMPORTANT AND RARE "LOTUS" LANTERN FROM THE LIVING ROOM OF THE ROBERT R. BLACKER HOUSE, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA with the original mahogany ceiling supports, brass ceiling plate, and silvered and painted glass diffuser leaded opalescent, cathedral and iridized cathedral glass (selectively plated), mahogany, ebony, brass, and leather 28 1/4 in. (71.8 cm) drop as illustrated 16 1/4 in. (41.3) height of shade 25 1/2 in. (64/8 cm) diameter circa 1908 leaded glass panels executed by the Sturdy Lange Company, Los Angleles, CA mahogany frames executed in the workshop of Peter Hall, Pasadena, CA

Images and content copyright Sothebys, New York 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Chandelier c. 1907. Honduras Mahogany, ebony, Port Oxford Cedar leaded art glass, leather. Made by Peter and John Hall. Art Glass Panels attributed to Emil Lange. For the dining room, Laurabelle A. Robinson House

©2010, Colin Hansford, all rights reserved.

Three interesting invoices issued by Sturdy-Lange Company to Greene & Greene on behalf of their client David Gamble.

The first and earliest dated 12/25/1909 shows that Harry Sturdy's name had been crossed through, implying that he had already departed from the company. Third invoice is imprinted wiith a rubber stamp, "Emil Lange successor to .."

Currently there are no records that show Harry working for anyone else and although he died at some point between 1913 (still living in Los Angeles when citizenship was granted) and 1920 when the census records his wife Mary as widowed, records have not yet surfaced to substatiate his whereabouts after Sturdy-Lange.

I have contacted one of Harry's indirect descendents and hopefully we will have something more to add to this page regarding his later career and ultimate passing.

Photos on this page Courtesy of The Greene and Greene Archives, Gamble House, University of Southern California. Visit The Archives Here