July 14, 2015
We love restoring lighting for historic buildings and houses and have been doing it for over 30 years.
While going through some old photo albums, we came across one of our first notable jobs which was the lighting restoration work we did for Spadina House (Toronto) in 1983. For those that don't know, Spadina House is a landmark museum/historic home that was once owned by the Austin Family (Consumer's Gas, Austin Terrace) and is now operated by the City of Toronto as a museum. Although it sits in the shadow of is grander neighbour Casa Loma, Spadina House is a way better museum that offers a glimpse into an authentic family home spanning over 150 years.
When it was bequeathed to the City in 1982 by Anna Thompson, the house was a time capsule with original interiors, furnishings and lighting dating from the 1880s to the 1940s. In need of restoration, we were called in to handle all of the lighting except the crystal gasoliers in the main parlour. From Eastlake to Art Nouveau, the lighting was high end for each time and very rare.
These are some snapshots of the fixtures in there as found condition. All hanging on the ceiling prior to us restoring them. They are all still present in the house and incredible to see today.
This is ones of my favourite chandeliers of all time. Originally gas, its from the 1880s and the porcelain center is exquisite. Love the arms with hands holding the lights with the gas keys underneath. Was most likely wired in the 1920s judging by the clip on shades. We restored the original finish and fitted the gasolier with period shades. Currently hangs in the front hall.
This paneled glass opal dome was originally gas even though it was made to look like electricity. It would have been sacrilege to have electric light in Spadina House as James Austin was the head of Consumers Gas.
The 1880s gasoliers in the main parlour are just as nice then as they are now. Real show stoppers with their original etched crown top shades and crystal. One of the few gasoliers that has never been converted to electricity as they still are illuminated with gas to this day.
Another great example of as gaslight made to look electric. In this case, it was electrified but only externally. You can see the wire taped to the side of the post with the gas on/off shut off valve above the dome.
Detail from the ornate billard light hanging above the pool table. The chandelier dates from the late 1890s but was retrofitted with Welsbach and green opal shades in somewhere around 1915. Looks like the shade hadn't been dusted since then as well.
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