Coy Green is glad he didn't get around to refurbishing the nearly 9-foot-tall floor lamp he bought about 40 years ago at an Oklahoma City swap meet.
Oklahoma historical and Senate officials are thankful: The nearly 100-year-old lamp was one of eight to 10 lamps that were placed in the Senate chamber when it opened for use in 1918, one year after the state Capitol was completed.
Green, of Norman, and his wife, Deborah, delivered the lamp Tuesday to the Capitol.
“It needs to be home,” he said. “It should be a magnificent piece when they get it put together.”
The lamp, made of brass and copper, is the only known one of its kind to exist. Preservationists, after hearing of Green's find, are optimistic that others may still be around.
Paul Meyer, a member of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission who served as the state architect from 1982-2007, said the lamps were used in the Senate chamber through at least the 1950s. He said they likely were discarded in the 1960s when individual offices for senators were built; up until then constituents waited their turn to meet with senators at their desks on the floor of the Senate chamber.
Meyer said he searched fruitlessly for the lamps in the 1990s when the Senate chamber was renovated.
“They were already gone,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said he was delighted the Greens recognized the lamp and decided to donate it to the Senate.
“It's all there so we can duplicate it,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa.
It will be much easier and less expensive to make a mold from the lamp than trying to make a mold based on black-and-white photographs, he said.
“This is authentic Oklahoma history here,” said Trait Thompson, vice chairman of the Capitol Preservation Commission and a member of Bingman's staff. “This is a wonderful find for not only the Senate but for the state Capitol.”
Green said he couldn't recall what he paid for the lamp at a swap meet off NE 23, but he was sure it was not more than $30.
“I didn't spend much on it,” he said.
When he couldn't convert it into an outdoor lamp, he dispatched it to the barn. It remained mostly forgotten there until last week when he read a news article about antique light fixtures being found in an attic in the Senate space at the Capitol; work is underway to restore a large fifth-floor Senate conference room, which over the years had been remodeled into offices and a smaller conference room.
“They had a picture of it and I said, ‘Wife, that's what we got in the barn,'” Green said.
Randy Dowell, Senate chief of staff, said it was his hope Green's story would lead to the discovery and donation of additional pieces of Capitol history. Dowell said anyone who believes they may have an original piece from the Senate chamber, such as a lighting fixture or other decorative detail, should call the Senate at 524-0126, and ask to speak with him, Thompson or Senate Central Services Supervisor Roger Pirrong.