Old House Idiosyncrasies #1–Lighting

This post is the first in what will be an occasional series on the idiosyncrasies of old houses, their parts, and their décor. Anyone who lives in an old house knows there are many.

Today, let’s talk about chandeliers. But wait, “chandeliers”, strictly speaking, are lit with candles, even though in today’s vernacular, the term is used for any hanging light fixture. But the Victorians, being ever so precise, invented other terms.

A “gasolier” was lit with gas. Gasoliers can be identified as the shade points upward, and is usually wider to accommodate the gas jet. The light, such as it was, was produced by a rather dim, flickering open flame. Here’s a catalogue from the period which shows several gasoliers. Another way to identify a gasolier is the presence of a valve usually on the supporting arm, but sometimes on the burner. Continue reading

Steampunk Architecture

Update:  I’ve updated this blog post on Steampunk Architecture with many more photographs.  The new post is here.

During the Victorian Era, the wide availability of water-powered and later, steam-powered, machinery made fabrication of architectural details much less labor intensive than previously. Creative ornamental details no longer required the skills of a wood carver, master carpenter, or stone mason, and many architectural elements could be factory-made and ordered from catalogues. In fact, architectural ornamentation became so inexpensive that several home styles in the US are known for their overabundance of gingerbread. Even industrial spaces were built with included ornamentation.

As the Steampunk Aesthetic relies heavily upon Victorian design, it follows that much of Victorian design could also be called “Steampunk”. And since, steampunk overlies a veneer of fantasy, whimsy, or imagination onto the wood, bricks, and cast iron of the Victorian, the more ornate the building the better.

So, what do I think are some examples of real-life Steampunk Architecture?

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