The Work of John S. Bradstreet & Co.
As one of Minnesota's premier interior design firms of the early 20th century, the work of John S. Bradstreet & Company is found in many prominent homes of South Minneapolis. Bradstreet worked out of the Minneapolis Crafthouse, where he was an influential tastemaker in his pursuit of more avant-garde ideas. Bradstreet's interiors were sophisticated, as he drew inspiration from numerous trips to Europe and Asia, and all-encompassing, as the interiors included furnishings, draperies, carpets, lighting, tile, and particularly stained glass where they made sure to “[give] special attention to this department of their business.” Bradstreet stressed the handmade over mass-produced and used pieces of high quality craftsmanship, including wares from Tiffany and tiles from Rookwood and Grueby.
Many homes within the Twin Cities preserve Bradstreet’s design legacies and provide a visual learning tool to identify his work, as there are few records or drawings that name Bradstreet’s work, clientele, or patrons. For example, in order to identify the Wisteria sidelights from the Alfred E. Dickey residence as a work of Bradstreet, three examples--the Woodworth, Donaldson, and Kenyon homes--were compared . The characteristics of stained glass and interior finishes from each home, as well as the location, time of construction, and a common architect, support the claim that the Wisteria sidelights were produced by John S. Bradstreet & Company. Below is an example of a window that we used to have in our inventory, discovered in the attic of a East Calhoun Boulevard address covered with decades of dust. Only with a professional cleaning did we discover what lay beneath this Bradstreet Beauty.
Bradstreet's interior decor creations were not limited to glass & tile--he also incorporated his most well-known and admired technique of carved cypress paneling and furniture with a jin-di-sugi finish into his designs. Jin-di-sugi is a process by which cypress wood is aged by burying it in the ground for many years. Bradstreet discovered a way to mimic the process with chemicals, which also cut down the time needed to produce it, and it quickly became his trademark. His work is still admired today in this Arts & Crafts town with the complete Duluth Living Room, personally designed by Bradstreet himself, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Below are examples of Bradstreet's fine craftsmanship and exquisite detail that we currently have in our inventory:
The first three pictures are from the window of a home on Lake of the Isles in west-central Minneapolis. Textured green and yellow leaves mingle with iridescent grapes, and free-form leaded detailing cascades down to create long, tendril-like vines. Warm yellow glass surrounds the organic ornamentation, and strong vertical and horizontal lines throughout add a sense of balance. One side of the frame is painted a slate blue-grey, and the other is stained a rich, natural brown.
The last three pictures are a set of windows found at the Frank G. Jones Residence in Memphis, Tennessee. In glass, leadwork, design and primarily in the motif, this window bears a striking resemblance to the 'Tree of Life' landing window from the William Kenyon Home in Minneapolis. Jones would often travel to his native Midwest for the National Street Convention, where he likely crossed paths with prominent members of Minneapolis society who introduced him to Bradstreet. With the growing popularity of Japonisme in America, one can guess that the Joneses also hired Bradstreet to bring his exotic flair to Memphis.