NEW ORLEANS – Five stories high, standing atop a loft in a centuries old French Quarter structure, there are noticeable gaps in the floorboards and light is pouring through from below. The wood floors are too old to even creek, instead they just moan. Getting here required a disconcerting hike up a series of old stairwells under an umbrella of joists and beams charred from fires long ago. And yet, for some reason, Bevolo’s CEO Drew Bevolo is grinning from ear to ear.
This, we are told, is the dime portion of the nickel and dime tour of Bevolo’s Royal Street location. On the first and much less precarious floor, there’s a new museum in the works, an exhibit with working coppersmiths building actual Bevolo lights and a wall of Bevolo lanterns creating a timeline marking distinct periods in the company’s history. It’s all beautiful. The old heart pine floors, exposed soft red bricks and constant flicker of nearby Bevolo gas lanterns simply ooze old New Orleans. The design is deceptively simple, yet masterfully created and perfectly executed. In other words, it’s classic Bevolo.
There are equally stunning offices on the second and third floors. Drew’s personal office is a gallery of sorts. Original paintings and photographs from artists near and far compete for wall space with photographs of celebrities, dignitaries and politicians he calls friends. Even the floor is blanketed by blue prints, books and paintings waiting patiently for a space to call their own. Amidst it all sits Drew’s desk, an island surrounded by stories.
Drew can hardly contain himself sharing these stories and his experiences with the likes of Edwin Edwards, Drew Brees, A. Hays Town, U.S. Presidents and the like. They each represent branches in a Bevolo tree that has now grown higher and wider than Drew’s uncle and Bevolo founder Andrew Sr. could likely have ever imagined back in 1945.
One story, in particular, is what brought Al Jones and his eldest son John to this place. Andrew Sr., was a master craftsman who revolutionized the gas lantern. Unlike any other light company on earth, he hand riveted his lanterns rather than using brittle soldered joints. And, unlike any other company on earth, he teamed up with master architect A. Hays Town, Al Jones’ mentor.
Together, Mr. Town and Mr. Bevolo designed and built the French Quarter lamp. It is, today, an icon of design and function. The image of a classic New Orleans gas lantern you probably have in your mind right now is Mr. Town’s design. In New Orleans, you would be hard pressed to walk 5 feet in theFrench Quarter without seeing one.
But it’s not just New Orleans any longer. Bevolo lights, which are still all hand made in Louisiana, are in all 50 states and 31 countries. And like Mr. Town before him, they are in nearly all of Al Jones’ homes.
Al, who has designed a number of custom Bevolo lights himself, says he can barely remember designing a home without a Bevolo light. (see our Lighting category on Pinterest).
“I can’t find anything comparable to Bevolo,” he says. “It’s authentic. It has history. It’s the highest quality fixture anywhere. It’s a lifetime fixture.”
Drew is happy to point out his company takes care of their clients. If you have a Bevolo light, whether you bought it or not, the company stands behind it. Period.
“They have a way of making everybody feel like they’re important to the company,” Al says. “They make you feel like you’re their best customer no matter who you are.”
Perhaps that’s why Drew is so pleased with this dilapidated fifth-floor loft covered in ancient dust, equally ancient spider webs and the painfully unfortunate addition of acoustical tiles on the ceiling.When finished, much like the lower floors, this floor will be yet another opportunity to entertain, educate and ultimately make customers feel special because owning a Bevolo light is special.
Perhaps that’s why Mr. Town put them on his homes, and why today Al Jones does the same. It’s why his sons Ben and John and son-in-law Tim will follow suit. When you design and build an Al Jones home, like a Town home before that, not just any light will do. In fact, there’s Bevolo and there’s nothing else.