Lost for decades, two of the original lighting sconces that once adorned the Senate Gallery have been restored and were installed Thursday just outside the entrance to the Chamber.
Trait Thompson, Project Manager for the restoration of the state Capitol, said it was exciting that nearly a hundred years after they had first been installed in the building, two of the sconces now light the Senate foyer.
“It’s a great day for the history of the Oklahoma State Capitol. It’s one of those things we can all be proud of. It’s one of those things we can all celebrate,” Thompson said. “This is something that ties us directly back to when this building was opened.”
Photographs taken about a year after the building was first completed revealed what the original lighting for the Chamber had looked like. Those overseeing a historic restoration of the Chamber in 1993 had hoped to find at least one of the original pieces so it could be replicated. When efforts to locate any of the sconces proved unsuccessful, other light fixtures were installed.
Twenty years later, in June of 2013, Senate IT Director John Warren was moving computer cables above a fifth floor ceiling and noticed an opening to another space in the attic. That led to the discovery of 11 of the original fixtures that lit the visitor’s gallery when the building was first completed in 1917. Another sconce was later located in a House storage space.
“At some point in the future, we’d like to replicate these and install them in the Gallery where they originally were located,” said Senate Chief Operating Officer Randy Dowell. “In the meantime, it’s great that we now have two of these historic pieces just outside of the Chamber.”
Dowell said news coverage about the discovery of the long-lost sconces had led to the return of another missing piece of Senate history. After seeing the story in the paper, a Norman couple realized the floor lamp they’d bought at a swap meet some 40 years ago had originally been in the Senate Chamber. They donated the piece back to the Senate and it was restored and returned to the Chamber in 2014.
“There were originally several of those floor lamps, so if anyone thinks they may have one of them or another historic piece in their attic or basement, we’d love to bring those artifacts back to the Capitol,” Dowell said.
Anyone who thinks they may have an original piece from the Senate Chamber can contact Dowell at 405- 524-0126.
Links to archived high resolution photos from 2013 and 1918:
Light fixtures found in attic
Light globes found in attic
Historical light fixtures being brought down from attic
Senate Chambers in 1918 with light fixtures
Link to archived high resolution photo of floor lamp from 2014:
High Res Photo of floor lamp