Edward A. Bruns (1871-1946)

Edward Bruns, Portland 1907
© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

Edward Bruns became part of this website quite by chance when Gaye Richardson, a researcher at The Architectural Heritage Center in Portland, Oregon landed on my page dedicated to the Povey Brothers.

She had made the discovery that the well-known photo, long purported to be of the Povey Brothers Studio, was in fact the studio of Edward Bruns. This was based on matching cartoons and designs in the photo to matching ones in Bruns advertising at the time.

Gaye brought me up to speed with his significant contributions to the Arts & Crafts movement in Portland, including some key information on his whereabouts prior to arriving in the Pacific Northwest in 1907. Importantly, some of his earlier career took place as a designer and fabricator of stained glass in Los Angeles.

In the process, we discussed the distinct possibility that the gentleman at the back of the Bruns Studio photo could perhaps be Bruns himself. The entire scene seemed staged and formal in nature and often, the principals in such a scene are present.

It wasn't very long before Bruns's Los Angeles chapter prompted a closer look at Studios there. There were several but the one most familiar to me was Sturdy-Lange, known for their art glass skills and relationship with Greene & Greene. Back in 2014 I had done research on Sturdy-Lange and created a web page for them featuring a photograph from the Greene & Greene archives at USC of a pair of men in a stained glass studio. I was able to identify one of the men as Emil Lange, but there was always a question of exactly who the unidentified man standing next to him was – Harry Sturdy?   After many unsuccessful attempts to connect with Harry Sturdy's great granddaughter, I no longer pursued the identity of this man. As it turned out, it was Edward Bruns, he had been hiding in plain sight on my Povey page the entire time. Consequently a deep dive into Bruns, his associates, coworkers and collaborators in Los Angeles resulted. What we found when researching Bruns's time in Los Angeles revealed the strong possibility that he was involved in, and perhaps even responsible for, some of the early stained glass work for the Greene brothers between 1903 and early 1906. It also included the unexpected bonus of discovering many new names of stained-glass workers, all worthy of additional attention.

Per the information below, a word of caution about entries published for a specific year in the city directories. The directories of old had closing dates well in advance of the their actual published date. This was to allow for timely layout, printing and distribution. Consequently, some dates may be off by several months.

My thanks to Gaye for her ongoing enthusiasm and information sharing on all aspects of Edward Bruns and his career. Thanks also to The Architectural Heritage Center in Portland for permission to include several relevant photos from their collection and to Bo Sullivan for his additional insight, additional findings and editing of my original text. 

Little is known about Bruns's early career. He was born in Chicago in 1871, and at 17, the Lakeview city directory shows him working as a clerk. He married his first wife Lucia in 1892. Five years later he is listed as a designer, most likely in the glass industry, but, as yet, unconfirmed. However, his first appearance in Los Angeles is in 1902 where he is working as a designer for H. Raphael Glass Company. They were a large, well known business specializing in doors, windows, plate glass, art glass, and leaded ornamental glass. In August of 1903, the L. A. Times show him as a manufacturer of art glass windows.

828 Santee Street, Los Angeles

In 1904 Emil Lange is shown working at this address, American Engineering & Foundry Company. This is the first year he appears in any of the directories. He is no longer there in 1905.

823 Santee Street, Los Angeles

Number 823 was a multi-tenant building. It housed several businesses including Pacific Copper Works (ground floor), and an Art Glass business owned by Bruns (second floor). In 1904, 1905 and early 1906 Bruns is at 823 Santee. Directories show him working at the business listed as Pacific Copper Works.

Names also listed as working at Pacific Copper Works include:

  • Charles T. Wilson, Glass Worker (1905, 1906)
  • Henry Sanders, Glass Worker (1905-1906)
  • Earl King, Glass Worker (1905)
  • Frederick Andrews, Glass Maker (1905)

Names listed as working for the Bruns Art Glass business include:

  • Edward Bentzien (1906)
  • Robert W. Bruns, Glazier (1906) Bruns's brother
  • Neal R. Gross, Glass Worker (1906)
  • Fred Kerkow, Glass Cutter (1906)

Significantly, Emil Lange is also working as a Glass cutter for Bruns at this business.

Fire At The Edward Bruns Glass Company

The L.A. Herald reported on March 22, 1906 that a fire had started around 11:30pm the night before in the southwest rear corner of the second story of 823 Santee Street, destroying nearly the entire wood-frame building. The Pacific Copper Company plant occupied the south portion of the ground floor, while the south part of the second story, where the fire started, was occupied by the Edward Bruns Glass Company.
This appears to be a pivotal event for both Bruns and Lange. Subsequent newspaper reports confirmed the initial police suspicions that the fire was caused by an arsonist.

After the fire, Bruns no longer appears in the L.A. directories.

Because Bruns and Emil Lange are together in this studio photo, it is clear that this is the 'Art Glass Works' studio at 823 Santee, and not Sturdy-Lange.

After the fire at 823 Santee, Bruns was involved in a highly publicized domestic dispute. The dispute concerned the insurance proceeds from the Santee fire and the identity of a woman who reportedly absconded with much of these funds.The Los Angeles Herald article of July 5th reported that after the fire Bruns spent 4 months in Mexico with a "grass widow" from Kentucky. This would have been April until July of 1906, more accurately 3 months, when the couple went on to New Orleans. The Herald reports that Bruns had interested the woman in the possibility of creating a new business in Mexico. However, the Los Angeles Times, on the same date, tells that Bruns had intended to start the new business in New Orleans. This would seem more likely. Regardless, Brun's time after the fire was spent on matters other than glass.

Sturdy-Lange Starts, 1906

The L. A. Herald of August 2nd reported that the dispute was finally resolved. Following that, Bruns apparently moved his business to Portland, Oregon, and Emil Lange joined forces with Barker Brothers designer Harry Sturdy in July 1906 to form a new studio, possibly to satisfy significant ongoing demands of the Greene & Greene commissions .
The Sturdy-Lange company directors include: 

  • Harry Sturdy, previously a decorator at Barker Brothers now becomes President.
  • Mary Sturdy, Harry's wife
  • Emil Lange, Secretary  & Treasurer
  • Arthur Stibolt, director and designer
  • Lucy Shroeder, a book keeper

So far, non-director employees of Sturdy-Lange include:

  • Edward Barton, Glazier (1907)
  • Harry Nielson, Designer (1907)
  • Enoch Neerman, Foreman (1909)
  • Claus Willenburg, Trainee (1906)
LA Directory 1906-7
Click To Visit Sturdy-Lange Page

Willenberg was an 18 year old trainee. He later went on to work at a number of studios, including Judson Studios in 1917, L. A. Art Glass, Pasadena Art Glass and others. Following that, he did work for Donovan Stained Glass. Betty Donovan's daughter, Carol Donovan Kelly, worked with him closely for many years. He was an expert painter and worked largely as a freelance artist for as many as five glass companies at the same time in the L. A. area.

Bruns in Portland and Beyond

Bruns was very active in Portland during the 1907-1913 period. Among the 23 submissions he made to the 1908 Portland Architectural Club's annual exhibition were sketches, detailed drawings and leaded glass windows. Six items were described as using an overlaid lead technique. While the leaded overlay technique has not been attributed to Bruns himself it made an appearance in some Charles Greene's designs prior to the Sturdy-Lange period. Bruns went on to advertise his studio in the Portland Architectural Club's subsequent annuals after 1908.

In 1916, Bruns's second wife Susan died. One year later the Portland City directory shows him working as president of Noglare, an auto lens manufacturer, quite a departure from Arts & Crafts. No further record of him in Portland has been uncovered. In 1925 he is back in Chicago likely at a glass manufacturer and in 1930 he is with his brother Fred. Edward Bruns is a glass salesman. His glass connections in Chicago, particularly in his early career offer a chance for more research. Thanks to Gaye Richardson for tracing his whereabouts in Portland and Chicago.

Bruns died in 1946 at the age of 75.

For those interested in the Arts & Crafts movement, particularly in the Northwest, an excellent book was written by Lawrence Kreisman and Glenn Mason in 2007. Titled The Arts & Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest, it's essential reading for all lovers and scholars of the movement.

The Edward Bruns Studio 1908

© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

Bo Sullivan's research into this photo is revealing. "Because the photograph shows his studio full of the fixtures commissioned by architect Ellis Lawrence for the Portland Commercial Club, which opened in June of 1908, I think it was shot between the time the Commercial Club lighting was nearly complete and when it was installed, thus it is likely to be April or May of 1908. This means the photo was taken in his first studio (52 10th Street N.) and not in his second studio (68.5 Oak Street which does still exist). 1908 Portland Architectural Club exhibition was earlier in January of 1908 and his ad in the yearbook has the old address, further confirming his location in early 1908."  

For those interested in obtaining a copy of this photo, it is available from Historic Photo Archive in Portland, Oregon (503) 460-0415. The original photographer is listed as Clyde McMonagle (1883-1943), and the original image was an 8x10 glass plate negative scanned to produce a scene of terrific quality. Historic Photo Archive offer many wonderful photos of the period and have kindly given permission to include this image on this website.

© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

Two finished lamps on the back bench, the lady on the telephone is perhaps Bruns's second wife Susan. Full sheets of glass resting against the back wall. Interesting to see such a broad number of styles present in these photos. This one even includes a Prairie style window, and cartoon drawings for very traditional Arts & Crafts windows are on the wall at the back.

© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

A run of table lamp shades and perhaps lanterns. More cartoon drawings on the side wall. These gentlemen no doubt have living relatives alive today. Contact me if that may be the case.

© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

Edward Bruns leaning against the work bench at the rear. The cartoon of the galleon on the left side of the photo is a documented design by Bruns. It was entered in the 1908 Portland Architectural Club's Annual Exhibition and featured in his advertisement in the 1909 Club yearbook. A larger image of this work is shown in the Gallery section of this page.

© Copyright Historic Photo Archive, Portland, OR, All rights Reserved

Completed hanger with chains. Full sheets of glass await the next project. Also we see soldering irons at the ready, flux in the crock nearby, possibly a dalle hammer on the bench, used to break up slabs of dalle glass into chunks which occasionally appear in window and lighting designs from this period.

© Google, All rights Reserved

The reading room at the Portland Commercial Club, 1909. This photo appeared in a 1909 edition of Architect & Engineer.


  • ArchitecturalHeritageCenterLamp-crop
  • ArchitecturalHeritageCenterLamp-lit
  • Bruns-MichaelMcCary
  • PortlandArchitecturalClub1913-crop
  • design4
  • PortlandArchitecturalClub1908-1
  • PortlandArchitecturalYearBook-1910
  • design2GrapeWindow
  • design3
  • sketch3
  • ArchitecturalHeritageCenterLamp-crop
    23" Square Arts & Crafts Chandelier as seen in the studio photo. Can be seen at the Architectural Heritage Center, Portland. © Architectural Heritage Center, 2020 All Rights Reserved
  • ArchitecturalHeritageCenterLamp-lit
    23" Square Arts & Crafts Chandelier as seen in the studio photo. Can be seen at the Architectural Heritage Center, Portland. © Architectural Heritage Center, 2020 All Rights Reserved
  • Bruns-MichaelMcCary
    Stair Landing Window attributed to Bruns from an Irvington Portland neighborhood. Note the group of birds. Use of this design element was implemented in the Greene's Tichenor House in Long Beach,California, 1904-1905. Charles Greene was thought to have been the originator of this motif. Photograph by Mike McCary from the book Arts & Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest by Lawrence Kreisman and Glenn Mason, ©2007
  • PortlandArchitecturalClub1913-crop
    The galleon illustration as seen on the easel in the studio photo. It was featured in an advert in the 1909 edition of the Portland Architectural Club Year Book. Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive. 2020
  • design4
    Design for stained glass, Seattle Architectural Club, 1910. Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive, 2020.
  • PortlandArchitecturalClub1908-1
    Advertisement placed in the 1908 Portland Architectural Club Exhibition. Copyright Google, Inc., 2020, All Rights Reserved.
  • PortlandArchitecturalYearBook-1910
    Design sketch, from the Portland Architectural Club year book in 1910.
    Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive, 2020.
  • design2GrapeWindow
    Grape window design. 1909 Portland Architectural Club Yearbook. Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive, 2020.
  • design3
    Design for stained glass window. Portland Architectural Club, 1910. Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive, 2020.
  • sketch3
    Sketch for Stained Glass. Portland Architectural Club Year Book, 1910. Courtesy of Bo Sullivan, Arcalus Archive, 2020.
  • GGUSC-Lange-6890-cleaned
    Photo Courtesy of The Greene and Greene Archives, Gamble House, University of Southern California.