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Antique “gasolier” lights installed in Magnolia’s main house

  • Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eight antique light fixtures have been installed in Magnolia Gardens’ main house as part of a continuing effort to return the nine-room mansion to the style when the house was the scene of lavish parties before the Charleston Renaissance.

Seven of the fixtures are “gasoliers,” which were used to illuminate a room with electric light bulbs or open gas flames, Magnolia’s historian Lisa Randle said. “The fixtures were installed when the house was renovated in 1891 with the addition of four rooms.

“Sometimes visitors come to Magnolia to be entertained,” Randle said. “The installation of the light fixtures is a way to combine education with entertainment by talking about technological changes and, in the process, we can be more historically accurate in our interpretation of the house.”

Relic Antiques & Flea Market, a company in the Red Top community near Charleston, provided the fixtures from its inventory. Daniel and Victoria Doyle own and operate the company.

Randle said records do not indicate whether gas was used to light the rooms in Magnolia’s main house.

However, during the installation of one light fixture in a second-floor bedroom, Daniel Doyle pointed to a small hole in the ceiling that might have been the opening for a gas line. Gasoliers were popular from the 1880s to the 1920s, Doyle said.

The glass shade for one of the gasoliers, Randle said, was made in 1911 by Steuben Glass of New York. The company went out of business in 2011. The maker of the other shades and fixtures is unknown.

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