As seen in The Post & Courier  |  July 22, 2001

Gas lanterns’ soft light returning to entryways Once common around Charleston in the 1800s, gas lanterns are making a bit of a comeback. The flickering flames are popping up all over the Lowcountry, lending warm glows to everything from private residences and historic inns to modern hotels and new subdivision entrances. The lanterns, which also work with propane gas, can accent any house – whether it’s 200 years old or brand new. Jan Clouse of Carolina Lanterns & Accessories, a Mount Pleasant company that markets lanterns handcrafted in the upstate, said that more than 150 new homes east of the Cooper have been built with gas lanterns in recent years. Lanterns can be retrofitted into an existing house, but she said most of her business is with new homes. “Some builders at first wouldn’t touch these things, but they (builders) are becoming more open to new ideas for their customers,” said Clouse, who has a pair of gas lanterns adorning the entrance of her new house in Park West. Gas lanterns range in price from about $200 to $1,000, depending on the style, Clouse said. The average fixture uses $8 to $12 worth of gas per month, according to a recent report in Southern Living magazine. Anyone who hasn’t seen one of the gas lanterns up close may be surprised at its size. It’s about two or three times the size of modern electric lanterns at the entrances of many homes. Clouse said lanterns in the 1800s were that size, adding that their grand style matched the grand style of many people’s homes in downtown Charleston. “It’s surprising to see so many of those homes that have undergone million-dollar renovations have tiny little lights around the entrance,” she said. “It really doesn’t look right.” Once installed, the lanterns are relatively simple to operate. Usually there is a shut-off gas valve inside the homes as well as a shut-off valve inside the lamp. The flame lights with a match or lighter, much like a pilot light in a stove. Clouse said the lamps require virtually no maintenance. “I just love them,” she said. “I’m a person who gets a kick out of ceremonies, so I kind of make it a ceremony every time I turn my lamps on.”