The Rushlight Spring, 2008 meeting took place in Philadelphia, PA on April 18th, 19th and 20th. Meeting headquarters was the Holiday Inn, Historic District in downtown Philadelphia. This location was within easy walking distance of the Saturday activities and many historic sites offering convenient opportunities for sight seeing. Friday activities included the Rushlight Board Meeting in the afternoon and dinner and socializing Friday evening.
Saturday April 19 started with a visit to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. This private, member supported, special collections library was founded in 1814. Housed in a National Historic Landmark building its collection specializes in architecture and design. Rushlight members were fortunate to have former director Roger Moss conduct our tour personally. His pride in and affection for the institution were evident, and greatly added to the experience.
While specializing in architecture and decorative arts rather than specifically lighting, the interior of the Athenaeum's building offered members many delights, including several impressive gasoliers. The Reading Room has the original 1847 gasoliers and wall bracket lamps. In an adjacent room hung another 1847 gasolier, this one having all the original glass. In addition, Roger selected a group of lighting devices from the Athenaeum's collection for our viewing. He also made available several early lighting catalogs for our inspection.
Lunch on Saturday was at the City Tavern Restaurant, a replica of the 18th century subscription tavern that served as the unofficial meeting place for the First Continental Congress. Here we dined on Colonial Turkey Pot Pie and Apple Cobbler. Many also sampled Shrub, a fruit juice vinegar sweetened with sugar, or one of the City Tavern's exclusive recipe ales.
After lunch Vince Plescia gave a presentation detailing the trials and triumphs of the restoration and conservation of the two gas chandeliers at the Merchant's House Museum in New York City.
The balance of the afternoon was free for sight seeing in and around Philadelphia or a visit to the home of Hugh and Debbie Pribell to see their remarkable lighting collection.
Hugh's collection, though primarily kerosene era, also includes earlier lamps such as lard oil, burning fluid and vapor lamps. Many of the lamps have been incorporated into their home's décor making the display all the more enjoyable. The depth and breadth of this collection had many visitors wanting to overstay their time slot.
Saturday evening was highlighted by our reception and dinner at the hotel. The reception included the usual cash bar, some very interesting vendor offerings and a silent auction. Hugh Pribell had the honor of lighting the rush to open the meeting.
Dinner of either steak or fish was followed by a brief Club business meeting. After dinner we were able to enjoy an expanded Show and Tell featuring many interesting items with a Philadelphia connection.
The evening culminated with featured speaker Don Fennimore of the Winterthur Museum. His slide presentation of his personal collection of Philadelphia related lighting thrilled us all. Everyone in the room understood what he meant when he pointed out items in his collection that he "just had to have" or items that "spoke to him" when he first saw them.
Sunday, April 20, arrived all too quickly for most of us. After breakfast at the hotel many members journeyed to the home of Hoff Dolan in Villanova, PA., to view his collection. Chuck Leib and Joe Arvay presided in Hoff's absence and were not only gracious hosts but were able to provide significant details on items in the collection and, in many cases, interesting anecdotes about them. Hoff's collection is pre-kerosene. His collection of lard lamps includes many unusual lard lamps in excellent condition. In addition to enjoying the collection, the beautiful spring weather and lovely location of Hoff's home provided winter weary Rushlighters with a wonderful morning.
Our thanks to Don and Donna Schoenly for their hard work in organizing and running the meeting; Hugh and Debbie Pribell for their hospitality; to Hoff Dolan, Chuck Leib and Joe Arvay for a pleasant Sunday morning and to all those who worked so hard making this meeting an event to remember.