Project of the Month for April/May, 2006
Indiana Supreme Court
This project involved a chandelier manufactured by Archer & Pancoast of NYC, in 1886. The chandelier measures 24 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide and weighs 500 lbs. Our task was to restore and modify the chandelier, with an eye toward preservation. In addition to re-wiring and a general re-finishing, we were to convert existing gas burners to electricity, add an up-light component to highlight the ornately painted ceiling and add a ring with adjustable MR16 lamps for task lighting in the courtroom.
The multiple tasks of restoration, modification and preservation are conflicting goals and the best we could hope to achieve would be a delicate balance between the three. We developed our plan of attack after a site visit to examine the chandelier and meeting with the design professionals and the owners representatives. Our goal became to make the fixture look new and add the required lighting elements without making any permanent changes to the fixture. All of our modifications are easily reversible (with one exception of drilling out original gas valves for wire passage) and mount to existing elements of the chandelier.
The original finish on most of the chandelier had been compromised and/or replaced in the not too distant past during an attempt to polish the fixture on site so we chose to restore the original polish and clear lacquer finish. During removal of the existing lacquer we discovered that the recesses in the hand-hammered center bowls had been inlaid with red lacquer. Polish residue from the abortive polishing attempt concealed the red highlights. An investigation revealed the extent of the inlay and we duplicated the finish prior to lacquer top-coat.
The sockets had been replaced a while back but the wiring in the fixture was circa 1886 and needed replacing. Some metal-work required repairs. There was a giant hang-straight swivel inside of the ceiling canopy which required rehabilitation.
The spot lamp ring is a polished brass ring in six segments. Each segment mounts to brass plates sandwiched between the six main arm sections. The entire assembly is a bolt-together design using existing elements for mounting and is completely removable. The six segments hold eighteen (18) brass MR-16 housings containing 37 watt narrow floods to illuminate the bench, podium and opposing councils' tables. The transformer was mounted above the ceiling.
An up-light component was added to an existing pan to highlight the center portion of the ceiling. The balance of the ceiling will be illuminated by other fixtures in the space. We added an additional spun brass pan to add the required depth and diameter to install four (4) asymmetric reflectors, each housing a 100-watt ED-17 metal halide lamp and electronic ballast.
There were thirty (30) gas candles which still had the original gas elements in place. Our directive was to electrify these elements. The modifications required enlarging passages through the gas valves and modifying the valves so that they were fixed in place to prevent cutting of the wires, the addition of sockets, building new arm hubs to replace the gas bodies, which prevented wire distribution and modification of the main gas manifold in the center of the fixture.
The final product brought back the original magnificence of the chandelier while greatly improving functionality. We feel justice was done.