Several historic lighting fixtures originally designed by Thomas Jefferson were painstakingly restored so as to repair but in otherwise retain their original historic patina finishes.
The Virginia State Capitol is a National Historic Landmark and houses the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. It was originally planned and designed by Thomas Jefferson and French architect and artist Charles-Louis Clérisseau. Inspiration was taken from the ancient Roman temple Maison Carrée at Nîmes in southern France. Jefferson’s capitol building is one of the few accurate renderings of ancient classical architecture among U.S. state legislatures.
Hillier Architects worked with famed historic lighting designer Gary Steffy to restore the capitol building in Jeffersonian-period style. In 2005, Crenshaw was selected to provide the historic decorative lighting for the renovation effort. In addition to planning and designing the capitol itself, Jefferson designed several existing lighting fixtures, such as the exterior post lanterns that flank the front steps. Several of these fixtures were carefully restored with the goal of repairing them while retaining their original finishes. Areas of repair had to be painstakingly hand-finished so as to blend flawlessly with the original aged patinas.
Also included in the lighting package was the careful development and creation of a complete series of chandeliers and wall-mounted and ceiling-surface-mounted light fixtures specifically tailored to the unique period and styling of the building. Crenshaw worked closely with the lighting designer, the historic preservation architect, patternmakers, and glass artisans to create the family of fixtures now exhibited in the capitol building.
Unique lost-wax castings were created using a dogwood motif in reference to the Virginia state flower. Hand wheel-cut glass in a dogwood motif was created in several variations for pendants and sconces. The entire family of fixtures was finished in a multi-textured, aged bronze finish.
This project won many design awards, due in large part to the skill and exacting care that Hillier Architecture and Gary Steffy Lighting Design took in their approach to this important project. Crenshaw is honored to have participated.