The German Society of Pennsylvania

 

We became involved in this project as part of a renovation of the ceiling in the library.  These chandeliers are made of plaster with a horsehair reinforcement.  Plaster fixtures, properly handled and maintained, are quite durable and these were no exception.   The danger is potential heat damage from over-lamping or water damage.  Luckily, these had neither.  

However, many plaster chandeliers have porcelain lampholders cast into them, as do these  units.  Our choices were to chisel out the old sockets and re-plaster new parts in place, or rebuild the sockets by disassembling them, cleaning all of the parts and reassembling.  We opted for rebuilding the lampholders.  The few damaged parts were replaced by parts pirated from old lampholders we have in stock from previous restorations (we rarely throw anything like that away).  The original paint was in good condition so sanding, priming and repainting was all that was needed.

Most of the lampholders were removed from the interior of the bowl, to limit future potential for over-lamping, and fluorescent retrofits installed.  an up-light component of  four F39-BX lamps with specular aluminum reflectors was fabricated and installed.  

Unfortunately, the ceiling renovation ballooned into a complete roof replacement.  This development threatened an international conference planned for the library, so we were asked if it would be possible for the auditorium chandeliers to be renovated in the six weeks remaining before the conference.  Luckily, we were able to rearrange our schedule to accommodate this new project.  

We were not so lucky with the auditorium chandeliers, though.  There was substantial heat damage to the ornate lattice work of the bowls.  This required quite a bit of plaster work, which was all done freehand, without detailed moulds (no time), with a lot of "carving" of the cured plaster to obtain the desired shapes.  The final product is indistinguishable from the original shapes.  Otherwise, except for being slightly larger, the chandeliers are similar to the library chandeliers and the balance of the restoration was uneventful.                                                                                                                                    

We would like to thank The architect, Richard Thom, and the lighting designer, Raymond Grenald of Grenald, Waldron Associates, and, of course, The German Society of Pennsylvania for having the confidence in our ability to produce this restoration.