French Quarter One-of-a-Kind Series: An Enlightening Experience at Bevolo Gas and Electric

By: Tara McLellan

A wide range of unique hand-crafted gas & electric lanterns from Bevolo

Drew Bevolo, third generation owner of Bevolo Gas and Electric, is unlike most business owners. Sure, he can give you the facts and figures of last month’s sales, what designs the company is currently working on, and how many countries he has shipped to. But he can also hand-make a historical and beautiful piece of lighting artwork out of simple sheets of copper, thanks to the lessons he learned from the ground up and the advice from his uncle.

Bevolo Gas and Electric began in the French Quarter in 1945 when Andrew Bevolo, Sr. revolutionized the production of gas lamps. A master craftsman who worked to help build the famous New Orleans Higgins boats for the war effort and the first Sikorsky helicopter, Bevolo, Sr. combined technical know-how with artistic style by using rivets instead of brittle soldering for his lamps’ joints and by employing the talents of local artists and craftspeople. Soon, Bevolo, Sr., along with renowned architect A. Hays Town, had created what would become known as the French Quarter lamp. Try taking a step through the old French Quarter without catching a glimpse of this now iconic copper lamp, and you’ll soon find that it simply can’t be done.

Fast-forward sixty years later and you’ll see that this innovative company is still going strong, and still producing each and every piece by hand. Perhaps this might have something to do with third generation owner Drew Bevolo’s passion for the art form and his unique business education at the hands of his uncle. “I came down to New Orleans after having a successful stock broker career in Baton Rouge to help my uncle, the company’s second generation owner, with the family business,” says Bevolo. “The company was in a natural state of transition, as most of the old world artisans were becoming harder and harder to find in an increasingly high-tech world.”

In order to reinvigorate the business, Bevolo soon found that hard work, and a unique hands-on education, was in order. “My uncle brought me on at $100 a week,” Bevolo recalls. “He insisted that I start at the bottom. I did everything from welding to delivery. He was hard on me, and it was the greatest gift he could have given me.” It did not take long for the hard work to pay off, as the company was rejuvenated and Drew Bevolo slowly took over the reigns. “We now have 60 employees, and, because my uncle gave me the gift of coppersmithing, I know I can talk to my employees about anything, any step of the process.”

What started out as a job in the family business soon grew into a passion that Bevolo fully embraces today. “Now I can’t help but look at every light I see. I continue to study,” he says. “As the company grew, and as I grew with it, I knew that our success would depend on continuing that high quality that people expected from Bevolo Gas and Electric. People recognize it. They know we have the best product.” Proof of that fact isn’t hard to find. Bevolo lanterns grace not only New Orleans’ historic landmarks such as the Cabildo, Jackson Square, and Brennan’s Restaurant, they have also been sold to customers in all 50 states and 26 foreign countries. This is one family business that has certainly branched out.

Where would one be without the other? A true original creation of the French Quarter, Bevolo Gas and Electric has embraced the romantic and artistic flair that makes this destination like no other. “The French Quarter lamp is a trademark of New Orleans,” says Bevolo. “This is a company that was born and bred here, using local artists and craftspeople.” Perhaps fueled by the flavor of a unique place, the flickering fantasy of the French Quarter lamp casts a romantic glow on an art form that, thanks to the Bevolo family, will never be lost.

Bevolo Gas and Electric
520 Conti Street

Tara McLellan, a freelance writer, book author, and columnist, has been featured in Metropolitan Home Magazine, New Orleans Magazine, New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles, and St. Charles Avenue Magazine. She lives and works in the New Orleans area.