The Cross House

Activating Hollywood Regency

Last April, I hung a pair of 1950s Hollywood-Regency-style sconces in the receiving room.


There were two problems however:

  1. There was no electricity TO the sconces.
  2. The sconces clashed with the almost-period-correct gas/electric chandelier.

Right away, I decided to get rid of the chandelier. It was more 1904 than 1894 (oh, the horror) and was, importantly, too fancy for the room which would have originally had a much smaller fixture.

Getting electric to the sconces would prove a bit daunting, as there had never been sconces in the round room.

So things sat.

Until this week.


Because of the cold weather, Justin needed an indoor job for a day. Did I have some work for him. Why, yes, I did. Thus, the two of of worked to wire the receiving room, which had no wiring, not even a working electrical outlet. Here, you can see the hole I made for the electrical box for the north sconce. But…to get a wire to it required the hole at the top of the wall, the adjacent ceiling, and the raceway cut through the ceiling plaster. Oh my. Luckily, I was able to drop a line straight from the top hole to the sconce hole without making MORE holes.


The ceiling on the floor.


The west sconce. A hole in the wall for the sconce, an adjacent hole, and a 1950s hole at the ceiling re-opened to pull new wiring.


On the south wall, I needed a light switch for the sconces. Getting the live wire from the basement breaker panel was amazingly easy: across the basement ceiling, up through a raceway in the telephone closet, through the open ceiling of the foyer, and through old holes in the joists (from a 1950s wiring job). In the receiving room, the large opening in the ceiling (right) was already there. The opening to its left was made by me, and this simply re-opened a patch made, I am guessing, in 1950. The patch was to bring a Romex wire down to an outlet just above the wainscoting (bottom hole). I them made another hole (just above) for the new switch. The old outlet would become a new outlet.


The 1950s holes had been infilled with wire lath, which a hate with a passion, and — no kidding — concrete. Friggin’ concrete!


Well, wanna see the results?

Scroll way down…



























I could have, of course, installed period-correct gas/electric sconces. I could have.

Naw, I couldn’t! The receiving room never had sconces, and to install gas/electric sconces would confuse the historical narrative, and y’all know how I feel about that!

The correct approach would have been to simply find a period-correct, and room-correct, gas/electric ceiling fixture…and no sconces. But I have been looking for the ideal fixture for four years now and have not found a single one. Again, the fixture needs to be of a scale and type ideal for a small reception room. I have been able to find ideal parlor and dining room and bedroom ceiling fixtures, but nothing ideal for the receiving room. So, when I came across the 1950s Hollywood-Regency sconces? I thought: Hey! I’ll go in another direction!

In the parlor is the perfect gas/electric chandelier.

In the library are five 1970s pendants. And nobody mistakes them as being from the Victorian-era. I plan to hang 16 of these in the stairwell (yep, you read that right).

In the dining room is a new-ish crystal chandelier.

In the round bedroom is an almost-period-correct chandelier, and a pair of period-correct gas/electric sconces. When I find a period-correct chandelier, I will switch it for the current one.

In the long bedroom is a 1950s Hollywood-Regency brass and crystal chandelier.

In short, the Cross House will be a mix of period-correct lighting, and obviously not period-correct lighting. But no historical narrative will be harmed in the making of my home.




13 Responses to Activating Hollywood Regency

  1. Well, it’s an ill cold day that doesn’t do somebody some good! I confess I couldn’t follow your wiring but certainly enjoy the results.

  2. Ross…..Saw your link on the website below….Yeah. What you’re doing….Been there…Done that. What a huge amount of work. Takes forever. Good luck with it……Yeah….and when I was done, sold the house and the person who bought it….BULLDOZED IT TO THE GROUND….What can I say?…..Thornton

  3. Well done! And a little extra architectural sleuthing along the way. Always interesting to see what happened in the 1950’s as well. And as for concrete – well, maybe it was just extra hard wall patch (just kidding).

  4. Well, I think you and the Cross House deserve a little Hollywood glamour. The fixtures are beautiful, lovely on their own but even more alluring when lit.

  5. Another job well done.

    ?????? as usual, I have questions ??????

    -1. Did you put the wiring through a box in the ceiling? I thought you might have because you may, one day in the far future (or tomorrow), find that perfect, period correct, fixture that MUST GO THERE.
    -2. Are you eventually planning to install outlets in the room. If so, will they go in the baseboards?
    -3. Since the light fixtures are Hollywood Regency, are you thinking of giving the room a full blown Hollywood Regency decor or do the original open doorway, trim, stained glass, and windows preclude that?

    • Hi, Stewart!

      1) I removed the ceiling box. I adore the sconces and have no wish to remove them.

      2) There is a new wall outlet, just above the wainscoting on the north curve. I will be adding a floor outlet to the west curve.

      3) My plan for the room is to find a set of period-correct seating ideal for a receiving room: A settee, and two small chairs.

      • What will you do with the beauty that’s currently in there then, Ross? Do you have another place in mind for it, or will you sell it on?

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