BENICIA -- Tucked in one of the former Benicia Arsenal buildings is a world-renowned art wallpaper manufacturer with a humble beginning.

Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers was formed in 1979 by Bruce Bradbury with a line of 12 wallpapers. The company, which specializes in 19th and 20th century period hand-printed wallpapers, has since provided art wallpapers to many restored historic homes and buildings, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and Hollywood movie and TV show sets.

"We are known all over the world," Stephen Bauer, the current owner, said. "But few Benicians realized we are here."

That may be changing. The Benicia Historical Museum opens an exhibit Sunday featuring the company.

"They had started the wallpaper business in this very building," the museum's executive director, Elizabeth d'Huart, said. "It seems pretty much a no-brainer."

Bradbury designed and manufactured his wallpapers on the second floor of the Camel Barn, which is now the museum's home, for the first two years before moving to the Arsenal, Bauer said.

D'Huart said she first came in contact with the company as she was trying to find someone to reproduce a frieze for the museum's Mizner family exhibit at the end of last year.

"No one else could do the exact replica of the frieze in the family's sitting room," she said. "I was so impressed with the (Bradbury & Bradbury) facility."


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The exhibit features a few of the company's wallpapers and the history of the firm, as well as the art involved in making wallpapers.

Bradbury was born in Maine and traveled to Europe before getting his first break in wallpaper making in the Bay Area.

"He never had a lot of money," Bauer said. "His parents helped him a little bit to get him started."

And they are the reason for the second "Bradbury" in the company's name.

"It's an honorary title for his parents," Bauer said.

Bauer, who began as an apprentice at the company in 1981, bought the company in 2008. Bradbury now lives in Napa.

"We've been here for 35 years, and wallpapers have been printed in Benicia for 45 years," Bauer said. "We've helped put Benicia on the map."

The museum is at 2060 Camel Road. It is open 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, go to http://beniciahistoricalmuseum.org/.

Contact Irma Widjojo at 707-553-6835.