Back Yard Addition

In previous posts I have been hinting about an addition to the landscape. The project is finally done — we now have two historic lamp posts flanking the back garden.

We lived with these lamp posts at the pit (our previous rental house) for five years. I don’t know where in Panama they originally came from. They didn’t work the entire time that we lived there, and they were just going to rack and ruin. I offered our landlord a hundred dollars for the pair and they are now ours. Cynthia truly believed that I was insane.

Armando, Alex, and I set about removing them from their placement at the front gate:


I had removed the globes before this photo was taken. This setting was seriously uninspired. We rarely even noticed them.

After digging around the lamps we lowered them with a rope. But before we could move them we had to remove the concrete footings:


The lampposts sit two-feet into the ground.

After the concrete was removed, we hailed neighbor Ramiro to help with the hefting. Even the four of us couldn’t lift them, so I got a couple planks and we inched them up into the pickup. We could only carry one at a time; these are heavy cast iron and we conservatively guessed that they weigh about 500 pound each.

At the new house, we unloaded them into the carport. I spent a hundred dollars on paint stripper and countless hours stripping the many coats of paint and down to bare metal:


With the globes, these lamps are about fifteen-feet tall.


There were so many coats of paint that much of the beautiful casting details were hidden.

Finally I had them all stripped and had sprayed a coat of primer on them. But now, how to move them to the back yard? We waited for the day that we were to pour the roof deck. First thing in the morning, the seven of us muscled them out of the carport, through the living room, and out to the back yard, laughing all the way at how incredibly heavy they are.

However before we could raise them, we had to make concrete footings. So on another day, Armando and Alex dug holes three-feet deep. We poured concrete into the holes to the eighteen-inch mark.

After the footings had cured for a few days, Armando, Alex, Aramis, and I raised them into place, the lamps sitting nicely on the underground footing:



The lamps are so heavy that we bobbed back and forth, straining to keep them on an upward trajectory. Our feet sunk into the muddy grass.

Finally they were vertical and stood okay on their own. We ran wires in the trenches that we had previously dug, then mixed and poured concrete. I wanted the lampposts somewhat out of the ground so that they wouldn’t rust, so I fabricated two form boxes for the above-ground section of concrete.

This morning I assembled the missing pieces, applied a good coat of paint, and attached the globes. By the way, we were all utterly taken aback when we discovered that the globes were plastic. Plastic! Apparently, the original glass globes were broken by hooligans, and were then replaced with plastic resin globes. Whatever, they look good:


Just below the globes is a casting with an emblem that says, “MADE IN THE USA” and has the General Electric “GE” trademark:


On the base of one of the lamps is written, “FORAN F.&M. CO., FLEMINGTON, NJ.” I of course Googled this and found that Foran is a prominent name in New Jersey history, including terms in the N.J. Senate. The F&M stands for Foundry & Manufacturing. But for all my research, I couldn’t find out the age of the lamps or when or where they were installed:


The previously-paint-obscured base is now visible in all its glory:


So after a ton of extra work that did absolutely nothing to get us moved into the house, here they stand for the next chapter of their history:


And Cynthia? She thinks that I am a genius.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

18 thoughts on “Back Yard Addition

  1. Fred those are so beautiful,and well worth the effort. Back in the early eighties my wife annd I came across a side walk street light from Colorado Springs (her home) we hauled it to Hanna Wyo and installed it in our front yard. It took about 10 people to raise it in to place it was so heavy. It also had a plastic globe.

  2. Recycling, no, improvement, that was good eye (for beauty) compounded with sweat. They look great now and will live for another hundred years in the tropics. Are they working now?

    • Thank you John. The lamps really improve our back yard — they make it very park-like. We used to call the area, The Back Garden.” But now we may have to come up with a name for the “park.” New York has High Line Park. Maybe we will call it, “Fence Line Park.” Now I suppose I will have to make a garden path. The work never ends! Thanks for the compliment John! Fred

  3. i have a few of the cast iron poles. they are a little different in design but same maker Foran F.&M co flemington n.j they came out of N.J. facility built in the 1930’s I am also seeking information on the maker if you find anything out it would be appreciated! thanks joe

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