It’s not every day you meet people who absolutely love what they do. On those occasions when excitement, knowledge, commitment, and pure joy do come together, great things happen. Those people create a positive ripple effect around them. That’s exactly what it’s like to meet and talk with Jon and Doreen Joslow, the owners of Scofield Historic Lighting in Ivoryton, Connecticut.
“We bought a historic 1836 house in town and began restoring it on our own,” says Jon. “While collecting pieces along the way, we became addicted to the aesthetic quality of the historic items. They seemed to subscribe to a certain value set that you don’t really see anymore; they become more beautiful over time.”
It just so happened that Richard Scofield—a reproduction lighting artisan—had his shop around the corner, and Jon and Doreen found themselves sneaking away to view the new creations like kids in a candy shop. “We always left awestruck by the level of craftsmanship in Richard’s fixtures,” notes Jon.
In 1991, Richard Scofield passed and left the business an employee. In 2006, the Joslows purchased the company with the bold vision to continue the legacy Scofield had created. Doreen remembers the first time her mother came to visit their new endeavor. “There were literally thousands of pieces of scrap metal and materials and tools strewn all about the workshop,” she remembers. “My mother turned to us and said, ‘You didn’t buy this, did you?’” Undaunted, Jon tapped an old college friend who happened to specialize in warehouse management and factory production. Within no time, they collectively organized the entire shop’s contents, revamped the product line, and realigned the company’s expediting and shipping process—focusing on more of a custom fabrication operation.
“We are in the business of the art,” says Jon. “So we quickly migrated from a downtown retail shop to offering custom high-end options for designers and architects, whose clients are looking for an extraordinary level of quality, detail, and craftsmanship.” As commissions came in, word of their lighting expanded. “We’re a small company that likes to do big things,” Doreen says. “We became a leading producer of historic lighting because of the growing number of our products being profiled in prestigious venues.”
In less than five years, the couple is proud to claim a long list of clients: The restored Stone Mill at the New York Botanical Gardens, the Henry Ford Museum, Walt Disney World, Colonial Williamsburg, projects by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, and various national historic sites like the Thomas Cole House at the Hudson River Government Park and Fort Donaldson in the National Battlefield of Dover, Tennessee. “Not a lot of people do what we do,” explains Doreen. “There aren’t a lot of places to go for high-end reproduction lighting.”
They have become experts on 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century chandeliers, pendants, lanterns, and sconces, and can accommodate a wide range of variation with each unique product. “We’ve had numerous designers and architects ask us if we could ‘tweak’ existing products to help fit their particular project,” says Doreen, “whether it’s changing the arms, canopy, lantern loop, candlestick height or thickness, glass color or density.”
It takes a village to create the company’s many one-of-a-kind reproductions, and the Joslows are quick to recognize the amazing talents of their employees who hunker down in the back room to make it happen. “Today, we have a whole crew of artisans who are perfectionists at their craft,” says Doreen.
The various patinas on the fixtures are created with hand-mixed casein paints. The environmentally-friendly paint is applied in layers to give it a centuries-old effect. All the glass is hand-blown. The chandelier spindles are hand-turned, never mechanically duplicated. “Every time we get a new project,” Doreen says, “we’ll always check with our crew to see if it’s possible or feasible.”
Although growing the company is enticing, the real satisfaction comes from creating beautiful products that withstand the test of time. “We aren’t going to use lesser materials, push bad design to meet production, or sacrifice quality for salability,” says Jon. “Having a business that you have control over is great, but there’s a higher degree of satisfaction in designing something authentic that goes from an idea on paper to what the client loves in their home.”
For Doreen, the real reward is better explained in the form of a human story. “We had a client who wanted to create the perfect private enclave where the entire family could share quality time in a special setting,” she remembers. “It impressed me that they envisioned how to best preserve those memories with those they love most by creating a warming welcome.” She continues, “We’re in the business of moving beauty forward.”Published in: New Old House Spring/Summer 2012