Augusta man builds, repairs antique pieces at Beacon Lamps and Shades

Beacon Lamps and Shades is more than a store with items on the shelf. For store owner Duane Lewis, it’s a workshop where he tinkers with the old and gives them a new light.

Lewis’ creative mind and skillful hands have helped him grow a business building, repairing and selling a variety of lamps at his Augusta store.

“I’ve always been a tinkerer. Even when I was growing up, I used to take things apart and put them back together,” he said. “I think you keep your mind active by trying to figure things out.”

Lewis started Beacon in 2002 as a partnership with a friend who had been repairing lamps at the Antique Market on Washington Road. In 2006, the business moved into a space in Surrey Center with two other businesses in an effort to keep overhead low.

Three years ago, Lewis’ business partner retired and Beacon moved into a different spot in Surrey Center’s lower level, where it remains at 349 Highland Ave.

Growing up in a town southeast of Seattle, Lewis’ father taught him about electrical work while fixing things around the house. It was more common for people to fix a broken household item themselves than to call a repairman or buy a replacement, Lewis said.

Lewis worked as a mechanic before a 21-year Army career. He was stationed at Fort Gordon and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C. After overseas tours and the Persian Gulf War, he retired from the military in 1992 and settled in Augusta.

Customers bring Lewis just about anything that they want to make into a lamp, including football helmets and cowboy boots. He also specializes in restoring antique lamps and cleaning and rewiring crystal chandeliers.

“It’s hard to find a good lamp nowadays,” he said.

The store carries nearly 1,000 lamp shades and can custom order even more, he said. If he can’t find a special part needed to fix a lamp, he makes it.

“It’s looking at something, trying to figure out what it takes to fix it and coming up with a way to do it,” he said.

Lewis is currently working on repairing a gas and electric lamp from the late 19th century. He also has a lamp with a hula dancing figurine that should dance back and forth when he finishes his work.

Many lamps for sale in the store Lewis finds at auctions and estate sales, he said.

DUANE LEWIS

BORN AND RAISED: Kent, Wash.

CHURCH: Windsor Spring Baptist Church

FAMILY: wife, Brunhilde; one daughter; three granddaughters

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