It’s the end of January 1922, in Milwaukee. A week has been set aside by a group of distinguished lighting designers and manufacturers with the goal “to boost better lighting.” They referred to this week as the “Better Lighting Week,” and their mission was stated as such: “It’s object is to arouse the Milwaukee public to the advantages of better lighting as a means of securing greater health, comfort and safety in the home, the office and the factory and to educate them up to the point of demanding more artistic and efficient lighting fixtures.” Can you imagine needing to be educated to DEMAND “more artistic and efficient lighting fixtures?”
But remember, Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb (i.e. making lighting more affordable) had fairly recently changed lighting forever, and the possibilities were endless. One of the lighting designers of that era was named Edward F. Caldwell. His workmanship was beautiful. He left an amazing legacy of custom designed works in places such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library and the 1902 renovation of the White House. Picture to left is of the east room of the White House. Although the grandson, Edward T. Caldwell, took over the family business in the 1930’s, it closed for good in 1959. You can still find antique Caldwell lighting fixtures in auctions etc. today.
But my most exciting “find” while investigating The Chandelier Club is located in Bayside, NY. It’s called Crystal Renaissance Fine Lighting and it’s owned and operated by Matthew Santoro. I found a great article on him while poking around this subject and it/he piqued my interest. If I am quoting the article correctly, as a young boy Matthew Santoro delivered The Long Island Press to local homes/businesses. One of his customers happened to be a chandelier factory and showroom run by the Greene brothers (the Greene bros. are another fun rabbit trail to follow). When Matthew was a freshman in college studying journalism he inquired about a part-time job with the Greene brothers. The Greene brothers taught their business to Santoro . . . and, as the story goes, eventually he was mentored by some of the lighting masters of the day; one of them being a designer(s) at Edward F. Caldwell & Co.
Vintage girls can’t resist vintage/antique finds. We’re forever searching for craftsmen and true restorers of one-of-a-kind pieces. When you make a discovery, it’s similar to hitting the jackpot! Matthew Santoro (pictured left) is one of those. I’m sure many of you are familiar with him and his fine lighting establishment. A full description of his work and business is found on his website. But what excited me the most about ‘finding’ him is that he offers workshops on restoring antique lighting. I had to inquire. Taking one of his workshops is now on my bucket list! I emailed Mr. Santoro and told him about the article I had read about him. I noted my enthusiasm for what he does and hopefully an opportunity to take a workshop from him. And to my surprise, he not only responded, but he called. Yes, called me on the telephone! That’s such a rarity these days. I was touched that he would take the time to place a phone call from an inquiry in Phoenix, AZ. There is a natural camaraderie with people that love antiques, but I certainly didn’t expect a phone call.
My hope is that some time in 2018 I’ll be able to give a personal account of my time at Crystal Renaissance Fine Lighting with Matthew Santoro. Nothing would be dreamier to this vintage girl/history buff than a workshop given by a ‘master’ lighting designer and restorer . . . and gentleman. Stay tuned!!
Kimberly Pearson has always had a passion for retail and merchandising. From studying retail merchandising as a young woman to practicing a more restrained version as a professional organizer then to home interiors and Redesign in 2005, it’s just a part of her make up.
Today, that passion has taken her to a personal shopping service provided solely to the design trade. As a lifelong Phoenix resident she has a heart for local; primarily local vintage shops. Kimberly works closely with her clients to provide top-notch customer service in their search for special pieces all while promoting a more convenient method to support the local community. Kimberly Pearson if the founder of Brick & Mortar Vintage and can be reached at (602) 460-6277. brickandmortarvintage.com