History: 1915-1955

The Studio Shop was founded by Ralph and Dorothy Crawford in 1915. Dorothy was an accomplished portrait photographer operating a photo studio on the second floor of 1200 Burlingame Ave.(today the Luggage Center). Her husband Ralph had been the Burlingame city engineer but then bought an existing picture frame business in 1914. They combined their businesses to form Crawford’s Studio Shop. They also left another Burlingame landmark, the Tudor style commercial building at 311 Primrose. Ralph designed the building but unfortunately died before its completion in 1931. Dorothy kept the business going in that building until she turned over the reins to her niece, Carolyn Misselwitz, in 1944. Dorothy passed away in 1952.

Dorothy Crawford, circa 1920.

Ralph Crawford, circa 1920.

1955 -

John & Martha Benson

John Benson

John Benson

In 1955 John Benson was a high school shop teacher, between jobs and with a young family to support. He saw a For Sale ad for a picture frame and gift shop in the Chronicle and the rest, as they say, is history. After borrowing $500 from his father-in-law for the down payment, John and Martha settled in Burlingame and quickly became established in the community. In addition to running The Studio Shop together, the Bensons were very involved in the community. John joined the Lions Club and worked with the Boy Scouts. Martha had several terms with Burlingame commissions, the civil service commission and the beautification commission. In 1979 Martha wrote a book about the trees of Burlingame. In 1989 the Bensons were recognized for their years of service to the community by being awarded jointly the Burlingame Citizen of the Year award.


The Studio Shop tradition continues under the guidance of Benson sisters Janet Martin and Kristen Benson, and Janet’s husband, Carl Martin. Along with a great staff of experienced art and framing consultants, The Studio Shop is committed to maintaining its 100 year tradition of personal service, quality and value.

At The Studio Shop, we are proud and grateful to be part of a wonderful community and feel strongly that it is important to give something back. The Studio Shop has taken an active role by providing both direct aid and goods and services, as well as implementing an employee matching program, to support fundraising efforts for local schools, arts groups and other non-profit organizations on the Peninsula.

The Studio Shop Family

Kristen & Martha Benson, Janet & Carl Martin