The Cross House
While the Cross House is remarkably intact, all its original lighting is long gone.
When I purchased the house in 2014, I knew it had gas lighting. So, I dutifully started purchasing gas lighting fixtures.
Later I learned that the house actually had gas/electric lighting when built. Which is quite a different thing.
Having electricity in 1894 would have been way cool. The White House only received electricity in 1892! So, for a house in a small town, in Kansas, to have electricity in 1894 would have been quite the wonder.
So…I had to re-start my search for lighting. And in fits and starts I have accumulated a stash of gas/electric chandeliers. This stash however came with some issues.
Most of what I come across dates a bit later than the house, as it has proved irritatingly difficult finding early 1890s gas/electric chandeliers. This can be attributed to the fact that gas/electric lighting did not become popular until the late 1890s and early 1900s.
This vexing situation — and, really, I am entirely vexed by it — has forced me to — EEK! — compromise and acquire almost period-correct lighting when I can find it. Over time though, I will then replace almost with correct, and sell off the almost.
Good plan, right?
I had no idea, no idea, that converting the gas parts of a gas/electric chandelier to all electric would prove so daunting. OMG, you cannot imagine how difficult this is. I mean, trying to thread wire into something which was NOT designed to have wire can cause a heart attack inducing level of frustration.
So, while I kept acquiring almost period-correct gas/electric chandeliers, they all just got piled in my storage vault because I did not know how to convert them to all-electric.
Then (insert magical music) a thought recently popped into my head: Why bother converting? Why not just leave them As Is?
Oh. Oh! OH!
I loved this idea!
The chandeliers I have been stockpiling retain their original gas jets. But these unscrew.
In their place I am installing small brass plates. These will each hold a votive candle. Thus, when I have a party, or have people over for dinner, I can light the candles which will give the illusion of gas jets.
Later, I can easily re-attach the gas jets if need be.
Finding a period gas/electric chandelier is one thing.
But, oh baby, finding period-correct shades is MUCH harder!
In the end, I have no doubt that acquiring the ideal glass shades will take much longer than acquiring all the chandeliers needed for the house.
My plan is to purchase almost right shades and then replace these with right shades over time.
Good plan, right?
How low do these things go?
Each night during the age of gas lighting, a homeowner would have had to easily reach the gas valves on a chandelier, turn them to OPEN, and then light the gas jets. Later that night, they would have had to turn off the gas valves.
Thus, a chandelier would have had to be low enough to reach. Right?
With this in mind, I have been playing with heights. Yesterday, I installed one in the round tower. It is 85-inches above the floor, or just over 7-feet.
This seems too high though. I can reach the gas valves, but not comfortably.
Today I installed a chandelier in the foyer. It is 77-inches above the floor, or 6-feet, 5-inches. I can comfortably reach the gas valves, but the chandelier looks…low. I am thinking that 79-inches above the floor might be ideal. Low, but perhaps not weirdly low.
In a day or so I will post images of the parlor chandelier installed!
PREPARE TO GASP!