The Gas Lantern is one of the signatures of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Our BlogtourNOLA group was invited for breakfast and a factory tour at Bevolo, a family owned business that revolutionized the production of gas lamps by developing a unique technique. In 1945, the French Quarter opened its doors to an Italian-American family owned business: Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights. Andrew Bevolo, Sr., who had worked in manufacturing for companies such as Ford, realized that by utilizing a hand riveting technique rather than making brittle soldered joints, he could create sustainable gas lights. He started working with architect A. Hays Town to develop a beautiful design. Thus was born the French Quarter Gas Lamp, inspired by the London street lights of the 19th century.
Bevolo offers 500 types of lights, and we saw a good 40 styles displayed at the factory. These are offered in multiple finishes, but copper is the best seller, sought after for its beauty and durability. I learned that gas lights utilize very little energy and the cost to keep one lit is 7 to 10 dollars per lamp per month. They are “basically a pilot light with a fancy cover” to quote the third generation owner, Drew Bevolo. Due to their high efficiency, the gas lamps stay on day and night. They can be used indoors as well. Kitchens are seeing a big trend in large lantern pendants. Lights used indoors are equipped with a safety valve. All these lanterns can be made electric as well. Bevolo offers a lifetime warranty on broken glass: if it breaks, the glass will be replaced for free!
As I observed the soft glimmer of the gas flames, I was transported through time and charmed by the quiet and non glaring properties of this type of lighting.
Here I am standing in the courtyard beween the factory and the museum part of Bevolo. Note the Bevolo lantern on the wall behind me. Photo Credit: Linda Merrill, a fellow designer, holding the camera for Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
I will end this second chapter by sharing a few images of the streets where the store and factory is located.
I want to thank the Bevolo team for a fabulous tour and visit. I learned so much and as always, relish a factory tour!
Next on the list, I will share what I learned about the New Orleans community’s efforts to rebuild its homes. A la prochaine!