The vintage Gas Lite lamp post was original to the house, and the 50+ years of use were showing their effects. The pole had rusted. The glass enclosure was partially broken. The sign with our family name was rusted, missing screws and most of the letters.
I’ve discovered that reviving these old lamps is not easy. I had grand plans of making it a working gas lamp again just like how it was originally. Many cities now have ordinances banning them, and getting gas companies out to work on them is next to impossible. So, that leaves a non-working eyesore.
I considered my options for several months because I had bigger fish to fry inside. I was still holding out hope for a revival of the gas lamp. When I finally came to the conclusion that probably wasn’t going to be a possibility, I started entertaining the idea of converting it to an electrical lamp. But as it was currently, there was no electricity running to the lamp.
Since there was no electricity currently at the lamp, that would mean having an electrician come out and run it from the house to the pole. Basically, in a shorter sentence, it was going to be more expensive than I wanted. I wanted to salvage the character of this lamp post, but, as always, budget is my number one priority. So, for more than a year, I just ignored it. I didn’t have a grand scheme or inspiration, but, as with many of my projects, I was eventually inspired by This Old House magazine. I know, I sing its praises regularly (like my FREE DIY art)! Once inspiration struck, it was time to get busy!
I wrangled Uncle Nuny into yet another project for my flips. So, he got to work building a replica from the magazine. The game plan was to remove the existing light, leave the post, and create a cover for the ugly, rusted pole. While the original tutorial called for plastic/PVC, the estimated cost was $300. Obviously that’s more than I like to spend, so Uncle Nuny transitioned the plan to cedar and the cost was $70.
As usual, the plan didn’t go as planned. The post has been open to the elements for 50+ years, so the rust and decay was extensive. It took a lot of hammering, beating, twisting, and every other thing we could think of to get the lamp top off. But it would NOT budge. So, I eventually had my handyman come and just cut it off.
Once we had the gas top removed, we made sure to turn off the gas on the lever inside the pole. You can see the rust was rather extensive, so I was happy to cover it up!
And then it got really cold and rainy for several days, so my lamp looked beheaded for several days. I’m sure my neighbors frequently shake their heads at my projects because they always look worse before they look better.
Once Uncle Nuny had the pole cover built, he drilled a hole approx 3″ in diameter (the width of the pole), and I was able to slide the pole cover right over the pole! I opted to have the pole white to match the white trim & new windows on the house, so Uncle Nuny did that too! (I’m lucky, I know!)
It took me all of 30 seconds to slide the cover over the light post. I absolutely love the clean lines of the post! Without a lamp topper, the cover actually twists around and isn’t secured to the ground. If someone ever wants to change it out, it’s not a permanent fixture. But it could be permanent if someone wanted to leave it the way it was. I like projects like that!
The next task was to figure out a lighting method since I didn’t want to run electric to the pole and the gas wasn’t an option. What I love about technological advancements is in situations like this: the perfect, easy solution! I chose a solar light because it requires no utilities and still provides the light needed. After reviewing Amazon and thoroughly reading all the reviews, I chose the Lily’s Home Solar Lamp Post Light. I didn’t want a style that was too modern; I was actually looking for a style that was pretty similar to the existing original gas lamp top. While there were some cheaper alternatives on Amazon, for about $40 more, I chose one that had really good reviews. The light comes with a lamp base. Unfortunately, my lamp post was so decayed and bent, it wouldn’t fit over the lamp post. So the “neck” of my lamp looks longer than most would!
UPDATE: I’M SEEING NOW THAT THE PRICE OF THE LAMP ON AMAZON HAS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED. I THINK I PURCHASED MINE ON BLACK FRIDAY AND IT WAS A LOT CHEAPER. AT THE CURRENT PRICE, THIS ENTIRE PROJECT WOULD BE CLOSER TO $200 RATHER THAN $100.
My last addition to this little project was to add some midcentury inspired house numbers. Since the original lamp had my grandparents’ last name and house number on it, I wanted to keep that same idea with the new post. I purchased the numbers at Lowe’s for around $10 each. They came in a stainless steel finish or black. I opted for black so that they’d really pop against the white post.
Since I couldn’t use the base of the lamp, I spray painted the post black. Even though it was already black originally, I wanted it to have a clean look and cover up some of the rust. What I love most about this project was that it totally enhanced the curb appeal of the home without permanently altering the original lamp post.
Over the years, Mac had turned the area around the lamp-post into a flower bed. There are tons and tons of lilies surrounding the lamp post. I even planted a few more of my favorites last year, and I can’t wait to see how it’ll look once they all start blooming!
In total, this project cost around $100 (not including the house numbers). I’m always a fan of unique curb appeal, and I think this lamp post is now so charming! Thanks This Old House for the inspiration!
If you don’t have an Uncle Nuny like more & you’re not particularly handy, there are some prefab pvc style lamp posts that come preassembled like this one.