Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass
We’re celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth by highlighting
the life and work of architect, decorative artist, and stained-glass designer William A. Hazel (1854-1929), who worked for Tiffany during the late 1880s as a representative in the Northwest during a construction surge. Tiffany hoped to leverage Hazel’s excellent reputation and connections to secure decorating commissions with the many new churches and civic buildings being built.
Hazel had more than a decade of on-the-job training with leading architects in Boston and New York beginning in the 1870s. He also spent eight years in Boston with a well-known stained-glass firm, likely John La Farge during his groundbreaking work on Trinity Chapel.
In 1887, Hazel moved from the East Coast to Minneapolis and then, in 1890, to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he oversaw the stained glass department at Forman, Ford & Co. and Brown & Haywood, respectively.
He quickly earned the respect and admiration of his community not only for his design work but also because of his passionate advocacy for equal rights and the personal actions he took to fight discrimination. Hazel filed lawsuits under the Minnesota Civil Rights Act of 1885 on at least two separate occasions after a hotel and a restaurant denied him service. He won one suit and settled the other. These legal battles were widely covered in the newspapers, and Hazel was lauded by his community for standing up for Black rights. He went on to serve as Secretary of the Minnesota Civil Rights Committee, and, some years later, to teach architecture at the Tuskegee Institute and Howard University.
Although working with Tiffany, the leading decorative firm of the day, was a significant accomplishment, it was quite a small one when considered against Hazel’s other professional accomplishments. Be sure to check out our highlight on Hazel to learn more about his commissions.