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Hudson County Courthouse Lighting Replication Fixtures Installed

The Hudson County Courthouse, or Justice William J. Brennan Courthouse, is a six story building located in Jersey City, New Jersey. This structure was designed by Hugh Roberts in the Beaux-Arts architectural style and built with granite between 1906 and 1910.

Grand Light, teamed with SMBA Construction, of North Arlington, New Jersey and architectural firm Helena Ruman Architects, of Jersey City, New Jersey. Grand Light was selected for replicating historic luminaires for an additional courtroom that was being added in the building. The replication included very ornate, cast bronze chandeliers, wall sconces, and desk lamps that were to be mounted on the judge’s bench. Grand Light was given one of each type of fixture which served as models for making molds. Grand Light documented, then disassembled each original so they could be molded and new components cast.

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The project began with detailed drawings outlining all distinct features of these originals, which also includes a detailed mold breakout. In addition to providing replicated fixtures, Grand Light was also making new molds which were going to be stored at the courthouse should they choose to have more done in the future.

For further information regarding the specifications of the chandelier, wall sconce, and torchiere, please click on the above specifications sheets.

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After the fixtures were documented, each component is removed and molded. These wax molds replicate the intricate detailing, shape, and size of each component. During this phase of the project, any deficiencies in the original fixtures castings are able to be corrected.

Upon completion of the molds, a wax pattern is pulled from the production mold. Each wax copy is then chased by using a heated metal tool to rub out the marks that show the parting line where the pieces of the mold came together. The wax is dressed to hide any imperfections in the patterns.

All the wax patterns were then gated and vented for a couple days prior to the start of the shell process. These patterns were then encompassed in a layer of wax, known as spruing, to create a ceramic shell around the mold. Once the ceramic shell has been allowed enough time to harden, the shell is flashed, which involves heating the wax mold until the inside melts and seeps out leaving the ceramic shell hollow. Melted bronze was then be poured into each shell to create a casting for each replicated component.

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The ceramic shells encasing the melted bronze were then cooled to allow the metal to phase from liquid to solid before the ceramic shells were broken off, revealing the raw bronze castings. Excess casting pieces, such as gates and vents, are cut off and removed from each raw bronze casting. Raw castings are the chased and any pits or stubs in the metal are filed down for a smooth, consistent surface.

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The surface of each component is cleaned and media blasted in preparation for hot patina which is formulated to match the patina of the original luminaires. After the application of the hot patina, the surfaces of each element were hand burnished to create an iridescent, three-dimensional look. To preserve this detailing and to promote the longevity of this custom finish, a lacquer top coat was applied to all surfaces. Once the components are cured, they were assembled, crated, and delivered to the courthouse by Grand Light personnel.

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The replicated historic chandeliers, wall sconces, and torchieres after installation at the Hudson County Courthouse. For a closer, detailed look at these beautiful replicated luminaires and their custom iridescent finish, please review the above video.

Grand Light specializes in the restoration of historical luminaires of every scale, material, finish, and design. From professional diagrams and plans for your project to rewiring fixtures to UL standards, our specialists have proven their reputation as exceptional lighting restorers. 

For more information regarding this project, you may review the project homepage at Hudson County Courthouse.

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