You need someone with a particular set of skills and experience to clean a chandelier like the one hanging in the main room of the Warren County Courthouse.
You can't just take it down and pull it apart.
Each piece has to be removed, cleaned by hand and placed back in the same spot. Sometimes repairs to the thin metal clasps that connect the Czechoslovakian crystals together become corroded and need to be replaced.
Times Observer photo by Ben Klein
Meredith McIntosh removes a piece of the chandelier hanging in the main courtroom of the Warren County Courthouse on Monday.
You'll need someone who's cleaned chandeliers in the British embassy in Washington, D.C., Shea's Theater in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
"This is my kind of a hobby job," Meredith McIntosh said on Monday, adding that she started out in Washington, D.C. preparing for Princess Diana and Prince Charles visit to the British Embassy.
"We went in and did all the ballroom chandeliers and the big dining room chandeliers," she said, "and then I did some work on my own at Shea's Theater in Buffalo and New York hotels."
About every two years the chandelier in the courthouse is lowered, and court is blocked off for the day so she can have the room to herself and meticulously remove, clean, repair and reassemble the chandelier hanging over the front row of benches.
"You can see a difference, subtle difference," she said, "but when its all done - it will be just dancing."
The crystals are removed by shape and size and washed in light soap and ammonia solution, McIntosh said. Each piece is laid out and dried with clean linen.
Many of theaters and ballrooms across the country are either on their last legs, have fallen into disrepair or lack the funds to hire a professional who knows what they are doing, she said.
"Theaters in major cities had grand palace properties, and most had chandeliers and all kinds of elaborate carvings, gilts, beautiful seating, and balconies and so on," McIntosh said about places she did volunteer work in the mid 1990s. "One of the large Pittsburgh theaters has been redone, it's the way it should be, because once they're gone, they'll never be recreated. It's just not financially possible at this time."
The contractor who restored the main courtroom at the courthouse in the late 1990s donated a chandelier to the county, and McIntyre was recommended to assemble the piece.
"It was out in the hallway in great box, all in pieces, so I said, 'I can do that'," she said.
Her work has led her from decadent ballrooms used by ambassadors and heads of state into homes here in Warren County.
"There are some private homes here in Warren that have grand chandeliers," she said. "You've driven by them all, and you wouldn't realize."