Michael Vorndran says he didn’t start out to be a collector of antiques. He was mostly the recipient of hand-me-downs.
I was at the tail end of seven kids, and I got all the leftover stuff, the Fort Wayne resident says. I was in the military for 24 years, and we didn’t make much money back in the ’80s, so I was always happy to take things.
But since Vorndran began rejuvenating a 1920s home on Kensington Boulevard, he’s been on the hunt for period items – especially light fixtures.
Most of the house’s original fixtures had been removed.
The hunt started when Jerry Vandeveer, owner of The Wood Shack in Fort Wayne, told Vorndran he had a chandelier that he knew had been removed from the house.
The two met through a Facebook posting.
He actually gave it to me, Vorndran says of the fixture. So since then, I have been replacing all the lighting in my house with vintage.
Vorndran says he’s developed a bit of a sconce obsession. He took down some very basic sconces that had been spray-painted white when he found ones he liked better.
He took the old fixtures to Pam Michel, a lighting restorer and an owner of Mercantile on Main antiques shop, 1753 W. Main St., so she could sell them.
He’s become a regular.
She redid them, and they are probably some of the nicest ones I’ve seen, he says. So he took them home again. They’re in my closet now. I’ll find a place to put them.
Vorndran, 52, retired from the Air Force and now a purchasing officer for the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard in Fort Wayne, also collects period furniture.
Although he says he already has just about everything he needs, he’d still love to find a little secretary desk like the one his mother had. His sister got the family desk, he says.
He was more than pleased to buy a 1920s dining room set when a cousin told him her brother was about to sell it. The set had belonged to Vorndran’s great-grandmother.
There’s always room for a family heirloom, he says.
That cousin, Rose Kallmyer of Fort Wayne, now in her 80s, spotted Vorndran’s most recent lighting fixture purchase when a neighbor was downsizing.
The stained glass chandelier is ivory-colored, with neat gold swirls in it, he says, adding that Michel just finished restoring it for him.
Vorndran paid all of $25 for the chandelier. But it’s really cool, he says. When you look at it, you see all kinds of colors in it.
I’m not a real period’ person – I don’t necessarily buy just one period, he says. I buy what I think is pretty. And for that one, well, yeah, I’ll drop $25 for that.