On The Hunt For The Lost Gas Sconces. PART 4

Almost a year ago I did a post about the lighting which I had purchased for the Cross House.

Although I sell vintage lighting for a living, I specialize in post-1920 lighting, so Victorian-era lighting is a mystery to me. However, slowly, bit-by-bit, I have been gaining a suggestion of knowledge about the era.

As such, everything I purchased for the house last year is, I now realize, wrong for the house. It may be vintage, it may be beautiful, but none of it would have been in the house in 1894.

I now know that the Cross House was extraordinarily advanced in having gas/electric combination ceiling fixtures and wall sconces. I now know that the Cross House was likely the first house in Emporia to have electric lighting. And that is pretty friggin’ cool.

So, today, I have a strong desire to make sure that the lighting I put into the house reflects the historic integrity of the house.



I purchased this 6-arm pendant. But is was electric, not a gas/electric combination. So, it had to go. And the shades were not vintage.



Now for sale, and with better shades. The fixture is ideal for a house built around 1910.



This fixture IS gas/electric. Whoee!


Regarding the above fixture.

Bo Sullivan told me it was more 1904 than 1894. Drat! But I nonetheless still plan, at the moment, to keep it. I may though hang a little note, tied on a dangling string, from one arm: This fixture reflects the original gas/electric nature of the lighting in the Cross House, but the fixture dates from about a decade after the house. Please forgive Ross. His intentions are honorable.

Another option would be paying out hush money. As Bo is likely the only person in America who will recognize the fixture as being a bit later than the Cross House — oh, the horror! — I could, well, ahh, pay for his silence, right? Maybe $5 a month? $20? $100? If this cunning plan succeeds, then Bo will remain silent, I can use the fixture, and nobody will be any the wiser!!!!!!! 

So, with these two plans in mind, I have gone ahead and hung the fixture in the Cross House. This is a particular thrill as it is the first almost-period-correct lighting I have hung!

The first!




The long bedroom of the Cross House and its newly hung almost-period-correct fixture.



I was THRILLED to acquire this exquisite 2-shade pendant. But it is, sigh, not gas/electric, and not early 1890s, so it, too, must be sold off.



I will miss you, you lovely thing.



This was for the butler’s pantry. When I started to rewire it, something startling was discovered….which confirmed that the fixture had originally been gas/electric. Zounds! The original arms (with gas valves) were replaced by the arms shown here. So…



…I modified the fixture back to what it likely originally looked like (including placing the urn above the body upside right) by turning the arms UP, and using gas-style large shades. The bottom shade would perhaps have been a globe rather than open shade (I have seen both type shades used in old catalogs). The fixture is, I think, circa-1908, and just not right for the Cross House, so it, too, must be sold off.



I purchased this pair for the carriage house, which was also built in 1894, although the first floor was wholly rebuilt in 1921. But these pendants, I now realize, date circa-1908. Sigh. Off to the sale barn they go…



The pair of pendants were missing two shades, and I was uncertain if the extant shades were even original. I did have a lovely set of similar white shades however! You will note that I never polish bright my brass fixtures. They likely were polished bright originally, but lighting levels were much lower a century ago than they are today, and windows tended to be heavily curtained. Thus, period rooms would have been much darker than today, and the glimmer of polished brass would have looked quite different than it does today, where it seems more garish than magical.



I purchased three of these WAY cool beauties. All electric, so they also must go.


I am soon sad! By my little [rettie

I am soooooo sad! By my little pretties! By!



While I have a newly born dedication to finding and installing period-correct gas/electric lighting in the Cross House, I remain open to, well, having some fun. In some rooms I may install a 1960 Sputnik chandelier, or a 1970s Hollywood-Regency pendant.

In short, as long as these modern insertion ARE clearly modern, and could not possibly be confused with 1894 lighting, I don’t think I will be distorting the historical record, thus causing a tear in the time/space continuum and the end of life as we know it.

You know, one has to be careful about these things.



This is actually the first Sputnik-style fixture created, by Lightolier. However, the fixture was introduced in the early 1950s, well BEFORE the famous Sputnik satellite was launched. Lightolier named it Astral.



  1. Barb Sanford on January 25, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Woah! Astral has spunk. I hope you do install that somewhere in the Cross House. I think the house would be amused.

  2. K on January 25, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Gorgeous lights. Found your blog via Old House Dreams and have been enjoying reading about your progress. I live in a mid-mod house and would love to have that last fixture in my home. It’s stunning.

    • Ross on January 25, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      Welcome K!

      The Astral fixture came out of a house in Kansas. New owners thought it was awful, and were amazed I agreed to pay $60 for it.

      I know!

      They would DIE if they knew what I sold it for. Even I had a bit of a heart attack!

  3. Dana Dudley on August 17, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I have an old Victorian fixture I will be removing soon. Please send me an email so I can send you a picture. It is original and very beautiful with the original glass. My home is 125 years old. Only one fixture remains, so I am hoping it is one you might find useful for your restoration. Otherwise I will sell it on Ebay when I do remove it, since it is not going to be placed here again.

  4. djd_fr on January 15, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Is it a sure thing that the house had all its light fixtures from the get-go? Building and decorating take time. We still do not have all the light fixtures we “need”.
    I think you could use what you want and keep a record of things, then there would be no pretense about the ages.

  5. Sandra Lee on March 25, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Ross this might be fun in the library with the 70’s hippie flowers– yes, Astral is 1950 but it also may work or in the pink bathroom downstairs. Isn’t that a 1950’s bathroom? I guess a groovy 70’s chandelier would be fun in the library.

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