Edward Colonna

Edward Colonna was born May 11, 1862 near Cologne, Germany, to Karl Edouard Klonne, his father and his second wife, the former family servant Henriette Quack. Edward was the first of three children to his father's second family. At the age of 15, he left home to study architecture, reputedly in Brussels, Belgium.
In the later part of 1882, Colonna left Europe for the United States and settled in New York City. He soon found employment with Louis C. Tiffany, one of the country's leading decorating consultants. After a few years, he left Tiffany and took a position with the New York architect Bruce Price. It was through Price that Colonna found a new position as chief designer for the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Co. of Dayton, Ohio. Barney & Smith specialized in the manufacture of railroad cars and built Mid-Continent's MLS&W coach. At that time, they were the second largest such company in the nation, and boasted a workforce of 1500 men.
Barney & Smith had contacted Bruce Price on several previous occasions, not only for interior designs in some of their railroad coaches, but also as architect for one of their corporate officer's local residence. Perhaps knowing Colonna through his work with Bruce Price, he was hired and began his new job at Barney & Smith in September 1885.
While working at Barney & Smith, Colonna also established a social and artistic relationship with other prominent local citizenry and expanded his interior design work with them. The high point of his career in Dayton was the publication of two small books containing some of his early designs. The first book was titled, Essay on Broom Corn and the second was Materiae Signa, Alchemistic Signs of Various Materials in Common Usage. The Essay designs are considered boldly innovative and were unlike so much of Colonna's work from this period which is considered conservative in design. Some of Essay's designs were translated into designs used in the MLS&W #63 coach's interior.
Colonna left the employment of Barney & Smith at the end of October 1888. He returned to New York City where he completed papers to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. However, his stay in New York was brief as he continued on to Montreal, Canada, where he established his own office. One of his major clients was the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Canadian Pacific was a big customer for Barney & Smith passenger cars and it is assumed he worked closely with their management while working for Barney & Smith. He continued to design the interior of Canadian Pacific's parlor and sleeping cars, some of which were still being built by Barney & Smith. However, Colonna's main emphasis returned to architectural design, his early training. He was commissioned to design many of Canadian Pacific's western sector railroad stations and also obtained remodeling projects and commissions among the Canadian Pacific's management and other Canadian businessmen.
On October 14, 1948, he died at the age of 86, and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Nice, France.
Main Menu