A Brief History of Gas/Electric Lighting
In my three previous posts I wrote about the great adventure of finding and revealing the lost gas/electric sconce locations in the Cross House.
In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb, and in 1882 Edison created, in New York City, the first practical system for generating electricity for homes and businesses.
During the late 1880s and 1890s, cities across America rushed to build electric generating plants, such as East Coast cities Taunton (1886), Bath (1890), Exeter (1890) and Bristol (1893).
The White House was wired for electricity in 1891.
With such a timeline in mind, the Cross House was perhaps the first private residence in Emporia to have electric lighting.
When I purchased the house in 2014, I knew nothing about gas/electric lighting. Indeed, even though I sell vintage lighting for a living, I knew nothing at all about Victorian-era fixtures, as I specialize in post-1920 lighting (which is FAR more available).
So, doing the research of these posts has been fascinating, and I thought I would share a bit of what I have learned.
Gas/electric fixture were an extraordinary innovation starting in the late 1880s.
Their popularity however was brief.
Within a decade, manufacturers were offering electric fixtures, and in a 1909 Williamson catalog, the gas/electric fixtures were at the back of the catalog (although gas/electric combinations were still being sold through to the 1920s, and beyond).
Gas fixtures remained available in the first part of the 20th-century as some rural areas of America were not electrified until after WWII.
While the gas/electric lighting in the Cross House would have been the very acme of modernity in 1894, just ten years later it would have already seemed a bit passé.
My huge learning curve has been mentored by the brilliant Bo Sullivan. While Bo and I have comparable knowledge about post-1920s lighting, Bo is all-knowing about Victorian-era lighting (as well as a great many other things), and it is great fun talking with him. Thanks Bo!
Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.