Written by: Tracy A. Smith
NW Renovation recently caught up with Schoolhouse Electric’s owner and president. NW Renovation’s purpose was to find out how this new period lighting store located on SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Oak Street was doing and to learn more about its unique stock.
Schoolhouse Electric manufacturers glass shades that have been out of production for 50 to 75 years. Theses glass fixtures were once commonplace in schools, government buildings, and offices. Faherty purchased the glassmaking molds for the shades from Gillinder Bros., of Port Jervis, NY, which originally produced the shades. These classics lights were headed for the landfill, but today Schoolhouse manufacturers over 50 handcrafted solid brass lighting fixtures in multiple finishes and over 100 glass shades from these once “lost” molds. The glass shades are handcrafted in a West Virginia glass factory. The brass fixtures are designed in-house and polished and plated in a LA factory to be assembled in the store’s studio.
How has the customer reaction been to the new business?
“Incredible,” says Steinback, “Customers have been very positive about our selection, quality, and especially our pricing. Some of my favorite customer reactions include a couple from Washington D.C. who emailed us after receiving our catalog to tell us that they were fighting over whose turn it was to look at the catalog. We had a local customer who said that her new living room fixtures where one of the most gratifying purchases she has ever made. The most exciting and complimentary event has been having customers come back two and three times to by additional fixtures for rooms. They often say that they are so happy with their Schoolhouse Electric fixtures and shades that they want to re-do their other rooms’ lighting too.” ...
...What is your best-selling light?
Steinback says, “Hard to say our entire surface mount, sconce, pan, and pendant lighting fixtures have been selling very well. Our large collection of glass shades has also been selling very well – they have been a big hit with customers and are definitely turning heads. We also have two lines of hand-painted shades, the modern color series and the vintage color series, that have been very popular with customers. Both of these series are unique and give customers an opportunity to achieve a classic style with an added twist of color and design.”
Are you involved in any historic preservation projects?
Faherty responds, “Many of our customers work regularly on restoring historically significant homes in established neighborhoods in Portland. We often do on-site consultations with them to assist with their selection of sensitive and appropriate lighting for the period of their home or project. We are also members of the Bosco Milligan Foundation and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon.”
Tell us something about the painted/stenciled globes.
“Our hand-painted shades are guided by antique patterns and historically relevant colors that are at home in today’s environments. Our decorated shades are hand decorated by brush and appliqué, using traditional methods,” remarks Faherty.
You also have medicine cabinets?
“Our paint-grade surface mount medicine cabinets are solid wood and come with a 2” beveled glass mirror in a streamline or Craftsman style,” adds Faherty.
Do you restore old Fixtures?
Steinback responds: “Yes we do. We are happy to help customers restore their old fixtures. We even offer a vast array of antique fixtures that have already been restored and are now displayed in our retail store showroom. The fixtures we offer in our store have been completely renovated and refinished with modern wiring and careful detailing.”
Schoolhouse Electric Co. is located at 330 Se Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Portland, Oregon. For more information call 503-230-7113; or logon to www.schoolhouseelectric.com