The Cross House

Period Lighting

While the Cross House is remarkably intact, it is missing all its original lighting. The house, built in 1894, was likely one of the first houses in Emporia to have electricity, and all its lighting was gas/electric combination fixtures. About a decade later, all electric was not uncommon. A decade previous, gas was the norm. So, the Cross House bridged two eras.

Finding gas/electric chandeliers and sconces correct to 1894 is proving difficult. I keep finding gas/electric fixtures from around 1904. And even these are rare.

So, my thoughts are:

  1. Buy ONLY gas/electric fixtures.
  2. If a fixture dates between 1894 and, say, 1904, buy it!
  3. Later, as time goes by, replace circa-1904 lighting with circa-1894 lighting.

Does this sound like a good plan?


This is the Round Bedroom, which will be my main office. Look! It has a newly-installed gas/electric chandelier! I am SO excited!


I purchased the chandelier online, and it was advertised as vintage. Upon arrival, I instantly realized that was not quite correct. Mostly, the fixture dates, I think, from circa-1904. Maybe even later. But see the gas valves on the bottom of the lower arms? They are fakes! You can tell because they cannot possibly turn. Fakes! Likely circa-1980! So, are all the arms circa-1980? Or just the gas valves? Or just the valves and part of each gas arm? In any event, I know the body and long pole are vintage.


The chandelier was not a lot of money, so I am unconcerned about it being a weird mix old old and new. It looks old. And I will take some comfort in that.

By the time the room is finished, and my big desk and Apple computer are installed, the Gods may bless with with a fabulous circa-1894 chandelier or the room.

In the meantime? I delight in the above. I keep peeking into the room. And smiling. Broadly.


UPDATE: Bo Sullivan alerted me to this catalog of John. W. Call lighting. This looks a lot like my fixture. Even the gas valves. But, as noted, my gas valves are fake. It also looks like mine is missing a flourish gripping the lower section.






7 Responses to Period Lighting

  1. First, that’s a wonderful room. I am jealous. As for the lights, I think that when I had a need to replace a light, I would aim for the 1894-1904 era but I wouldn’t be obsessive about it.

  2. Think of it as a ” stand in” until the absolute correct fixture is found and replaces it. This serves as a light to enhance the wonderful stained glass windows in the evening for all of Emporia to see. Now move on ! !

  3. I tried posting this yesterday but it is not here: You are probably already aware of this, but John’s Antiques in St. Paul is closing its doors. John’s has been the go to place for period fixtures, parts, and repairs. There’s a newspaper article on line with a photo of the basement of the shop. I’ve been there. Boggles the mind.

  4. For me, the historical narrative would be satisfied with one genuine period-correct gas/electric fixture in a prominent place, say the receiving room or the stair hall/foyer. The rest can be later or reproductions or all electric or whatever your heart desires. But I would like to be able to point to one fixture and tell my guests, this is what was once throughout the house, and it’s genuine 1894. I think I might want to relegate reproductions, though, to the upstairs or the service areas.

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