Porcelain barn lights were an integral component for industrial efficiency in warehouses throughout the country during the early 1900′s. In the early to mid 1900′s, Vicente Martinez Ybor made Tampa Bay, Florida the cigar capital of the United States, all while many of these companies throughout the area used porcelain pendant lights to illuminate the interior of their factories. As you can see in the photo above, factory workers relied on the focused beams of light provided by the RLM shades. Today, many pendants resembling the ones pictured above, are sold as vintage barn lights.
As technology advanced and America’s workforce diversified, many porcelain pendants disappeared along with the factories that were condemned. The porcelain lights that were once made in the USA, were shut down due to heightened environmental regulations from the federal government. While many of the cigar factories shut their doors with no hope of return, the vintage barn lights we now offer, have been cleaned, rewired, and come ready to be installed. Barn Light Electric recovered and restored many of these shades, which are also known as RLM warehouse shades.
After a few decades in obscurity, these iconic pieces of America’s past have regained their popularity and returned to American culture as a popular fixture used within interior design for residential and commercial settings. The original vintage appearance appeals to homeowners today and has helped them make the transition from heavy, industrial pendants to illuminating residential spaces like home living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens. Vintage porcelain enamel lighting is also becoming more prevalent in clothing retail areas and restaurants.
Barn Light Electric carries an extensive line of vintage industrial lighting, including pendants, goosenecks and reflector lights from companies such as Benjamin, Crouse-Hinds, Appleton and The Miller Company. The original and sturdy, porcelain enamel construction has allowed each of these pendant fixtures to withstand years of previous use.
Top Photo Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center.