A Day to Remember the Chandeliers

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 | 2 Comments

I adore chandeliers.

I maintain that they belong in campers and bathrooms, nurseries and libraries.

I don’t believe a chandelier can ever be “too much”.

I extol their sparkle, their glamour, their unabashed opulence. I love being fancy for no good reason.

Today was “Chandelier Cleaning Day” at the Pfister. I have no idea how often this day occurs or how one goes about cleaning these massive baubles. The hotel has so many of them that this is understandably a task that could block out a whole day.

I celebrated Chandelier Cleaning Day by asking Peter, the concierge, if he had any chandelier stories. Of course he did. He strolled around with me for half an hour, detailing the history of the various gorgeous light fixtures in every space.

The chandeliers in the Imperial Ballroom are probably the most ornate. Peter explained that because the Pfister was a pioneer in the Victorian transition to all-electric fixtures, gas fixtures were the prototype for these chandeliers. Since everyone at the time was thrilled that such a thing as electricity throughout a hotel could exist, the light bulbs themselves were seen as a decoration and a novelty and so they are exposed, waiting to be admired for their brilliance.

These Imperial chandeliers are stunning, boasting spidery legs, heraldic elements that look like crests, and intricate floral cups. These pendants are original to the Pfister’s opening in 1893.

At the hotel’s inception, after dinner gentlemen retired to a men’s only lounge and billiard room. This area was converted to the Crystal Room in 1926, complete with the same crystal chandelier that greets guests today when they enter what has since become the Rouge Ballroom.

The Crystal Room- 1926

Peter took me to the Governor’s Bedroom to show me a lovely Baroque Deco fixture that originated in 1893. It features frosted glass, handworked ironwork, Deco lines and an ornamental sunburst.

And of course the Pfister lobby boasts a pair of chandeliers that tout lavish, long pendants also from 1893. The coach lamps below are from the 1920s.

They originally featured fish scale art glass, which was lost in one of the hotel’s remodels and never recovered. According to Peter, the front desk used to feature a wooden tympanum that looked like a seashell. I can just imagine the elegant nautical effect the fish scale glass and shell tympanum created.

1893

The rest of the lovely chandeliers housed in this hotel were additions in the Marcus era. Those in the Grand Ballroom are dazzling and immense. Others hug the ceiling and subtly glow.

Up close, they are a marvelous snowflake; they are delicate lace. They are showy and graceful, luminous and regal. Some have lit up the Pfister for 125 years, and it took a cleaning schedule to remind me what a marvelous feat that is.

 

  • Pat in Illinois

    The chandeliers, so beautiful. A discussion of cleaning chandeliers, causes me to ask the question of who was charged with that task in 1895, 1900, etc? does the Pfister have an archives that goes back to the beginning? If so what is in that archives, employee logs, lists of staff positions, etc, etc, Interested in knowing what has been saved, and how one might access the information that may exist. Anyone know?

    • Nicole Mattke

      Hi Pat! I’m intrigued by the archives too— can you imagine the fascinating stories that could be housed there? I plan to try to track some of this down, and I’ll be sure to share if I do! Thanks so much for reading.

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