The Cross House

Drat! No Pipe!

Today, I got inside the attic of the main porch. I was seeking the old gas line to see if/where a gas/electric porch fixture had been located in 1894. But…but…no pipes. No old wiring. Just wiring from a decade ago.


Well, this very much surprised me. I have always just assumed there was a hanging porch fixture, sorta like this amazing gas/electric fixture, as seen on a house posted on Old House Dreams.


But, as I now know, there is no evidence that there was ever a porch light at the Cross House. Of course, the previous owner, who did extensive work in the porch attic, could have removed such evidence, but I doubt this.

So, it may be that the porch had no lighting. Most curious.

There is a stained-glass transom over the double entry doors, and this does have a light behind it. It lights up the window though, and not the porch much.

It’s possible that the original architect, Charles Squires, deliberately excluded porch lighting so as not to detract from one of the glories of the house: Its forty-one stained glass windows. At night, with the house lighted from within, the effect is just stunning from the sidewalk. There are actually seven stained-glass windows directly overlooking the porch.

Or maybe not.

At the moment, I am uncertain what to do. I may just add a period-correct ceiling fixture. I may not. I may discreetly light up the doors with an LED strip, hidden behind an oak strip, just above the doors. I may install a modern spotlight, hidden behind the soffit of the porch, and aimed at the floor.

Or I may install a large pair of flaming urns…






14 Responses to Drat! No Pipe!

  1. And then at Halloween you can grab all of the little Harry Potters and demand if they put their name into the Goblet of Fire!

  2. My Victorian home in Clayton,NJ was built for the supervisor of the glass works in town. It was not huge but it was nicer than the average house in town. It had pocket doors, chestnut woodwork, art-glass windows and a slate roof. It was wired and did not have gaslights like the older homes did(house is ca.1900). Surprisingly, there weren’t lights in every room of the house. In a couple of areas, sconces would have been very useful but no, I didn’t have them. There was no light in the rear pantry and none at the back door. Rather than be strictly authentic, I added light where it was needed. Upstairs were the only original fixtures. They are close to the ceiling, cast metal, bronzed with exposed bulbs. They looked quite odd until I bought some Edison bulbs and installed them. Downstairs I got rid of the junks that were cheap and not original and replaced them with pan fixtures. I mention this as I know you appreciate the travails of old house owners with junky modern [email protected] lighting.

  3. I have an aversion to spotlights because my parents point one straight at their Christmas wreath and then put me on door-answering duty. Unobtrusive modern lighting is a good option if you want light without confusing the history of the house. That’s what the Philadelphia Historical commission recommends. I opted not to add one to my house since there’s a street lamp right outside but code requires them (on a timer) for new construction.

  4. Given how careful you are of the Cross House, I was pretty sure you weren’t going for flaming urns as an option. But I LOVE your sense of humor.

  5. Haha – my vote goes for the flaming urns as well!! They look awesome!
    Seriously however, I agree that flaming urns close to a wood house is not a “Safety First” kind of idea.
    My second vote is for a porch light ceiling fixture, age appropriate of course. (Really pales in comparison to flaming urns.) 🙂

  6. In your previous post I posted a comment about the twin holes in the wood trim above the house numbers in the stained glass window above the front doors. You asked “what holes”, so I posted a link to a zoomed-in photo I loaded to photobucket, though I’m sure if that photo was visible.

    “I wondered if they might’ve had gas lines coming through from the fixture in the vestibule, to supply a lighting fixture for the porch. I couldn’t grasp the size of them from the picture above.”

  7. Here’s my theory on why there are no porch lights at the Cross Mansion. I am going to be making some inferences on what I know about Victorian society. Mrs. and Mrs. Cross would have been part of the upper-class of Victorian society. This would have meant they followed the etiquette of that time period.

    When the Cross’ entertained in the evening, I am sure the solid wood front doors were opened. The entrance hall light streamed through the beveled glass interior doors which would have lit the porch. I also assume that during the summertime when the porch was used, the Cross’ would probably not have been found sitting on the porch after dark.

    When the Cross’ would have returned from an evening function, I assume they would have entered the house from the side entrance which is located under the portico. The servant or carriage driver would have probably attended to them at entering the residence.

    This is my theory on the reason why porch lights do not exist at the Cross Mansion.

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