In The News

By Lisa Vernon-Sparks
Journal Staff Writer
Breeze Hill LampsThe Providence Journal Thursday, November 10, 2011

While most people see a candle-stick holder as a safe way to carry burning wax, Robert Lizotte sees it as a path to enlightenment. When Lizotte looks at a ceramic jug, a jar or a statue the proverbial light bulb goes off in his head. The same happens when he sees a football helmet or most any object because anything in the hands of Lizotte can be turned into a lamp.

Like a genie, Lizotte can transform a gas lamp into one that uses sockets and wire, a process he likes to call “electrifying it.” Or he’ll create wall sconces from old broken chandelier parts. With Lizotte anything is possible. Whether it’s making a new finial from a small perfume bottle, or using a diamond drill bit to pierce a ceramic jug, tinkering with lamps and refurbishing them from bric-a-brac is the kind of stuff Lizotte taught himself over the years, says the 88-year-old owner of Breeze Hill Lamp Shop, in East Providence. “You bring something in and we’ll build a lamp out of it,”
Lizotte said. With that said, Lizotte can also update and breathe new light into an outdated lamp simply by swapping out old harps and finials for new.

Lizotte, who runs the tiny shop with his son Wayne Lizotte, has been at the 1447
Wampanoag Trail location since 1955. Inside the one-room store, glass lampshades clutter
wooden shelves amid clusters of shadeless lamps on a table begging for some cover. Stashed in drawers is a trove of bits and brass pieces, amid bulbs and other equipment to construct lighting. The assortment is vast and colorful with orbs and hourglass-shaped porcelain vases and jugs, some with sockets and cords; others that are gas fueled. In
another room are finished products waiting for customers to take them home. A basement holds more lamp parts.

Refurbishing lamps has been Lizotte’s passion for six decades. Inventive in his approach,
Lizotte said that once he took an old syrup jar and made a kerosene lamp with it. He has made lamps out of flutes and other musical instruments. A collection of pear-shaped bulbs is his current project. A group of porcelain cherubs wait their turn to be transformed.

A self-described “junkie,” meaning a person who appreciates old things, Lizotte, started as an antique dealer
in the 1940s. He loved going to antique shows and puttering around looking for interesting things, a pastime he acquired during his youth. As he got older, lamps fast became his interest. “I was tired of lugging the furniture around,” Lizotte quipped. “I like lights because they’re easier to handle.” He avoids lamps that have a compact florescent light or a light-emitting diode also know as LEDs. It’s not that Lizotte won’t tinker with it, it just not his favorite. “We are still into incandescent light,” Wayne Lizotte said. “We loathe the CFLs,” LEDs can give off a greenish-white hue, while incandescent is yellowish, but regardless, lighting can make or break a room décor.