Spectacular 2.5-ton Ohio Theatre chandelier lowered for cleaning

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Four workers hand-cranked down from the ceiling the Ohio Theatre’s two-and-a-half ton chandelier on Monday, a 40-minute job filled with sweat and anxiety.

“There’s four people up there panicking and sweating a lot,” said Phil Hidy, former Director of Maintenance for CAPA; he’s done this job for 17 years. “Going down is the hard part because you never know where it’s going to fall.”

At 21 feet high and 11 feet wide, the chandelier, built in 1928, takes about four days to clean. Jason Gay, Vice President of Operations, explained the history of the brass galloping horses that adorn the lower part of the chandelier.

“The chandelier designer went to Thomas Lamb, who was the architect of the theatre, and showed him the design for the chandelier,” recouted Gay. “Thomas Lamb responded: ‘It’s got everything except flying horses,’ and the designer said: ‘Yes! That’s exactly what it needs!’

“He took it back to the drawing table, designed the flying horses and they were added to the design.”

The chandelier’s brass, lead crystal, and 12 circuits of lights create a set of challenges.

“For the most part, it is original,” said Hidy, “The cable represents 12 circuits. It’s broken down into multiple circuits. The wires come through a small hole, and [about 10 years ago] that frayed, and there were sparks, so we had to put scaffolding around it to repair it.

“The chandelier takes three to four days to clean it and re-lamp it. First thing is to de-lamp and do cleaning as best we can, and then we test it all before it goes back up.”

Hidy says it will take twice as long to winch the 2.5-ton work of art safely back into the ceiling once the cleaning is complete.

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