After Harry Horn, Inc., an electrical distributor in Philadelphia, Pa., purchased an historic 1850s building to house its new, upscale lighting showroom, Arch Street Lighting, the new owners soon discovered they had some unusual problems to solve.

The owners wanted to turn the former warehouse into a showroom worthy of the upscale designers, architects and specifiers who were the projected customer base for the showroom, but they also wanted to preserve the original period details of the old building-including its 13-ft-high tin ceiling. Figuring out a way to unobtrusively wire the fixtures that would hang from the ceiling proved to be a major hurdle. They knew it would be too expensive to fish wires to every location, and the usual raceway solutions wouldn't work because the embossed tin surface of the ceiling would cause a space between the ceiling and the raceway strip. Plus, Harry Horn President Mike Kurland didn't want a sea of fixtures all hung at the same height and squeezed together on a preset grid.

The solution came from Springfield, Ill.-based Intermatic, Inc. Bob Bush, an Intermatic regional manager who had worked with Harry Horn Electric for more than 20 years, identified the ElectraSource "raceway" as the answer to the problem. ElectraSource starter units are either hardwired or plugged into existing outlets, then the flexible track is cut to length, snapped into the starter units and extended with connectors into many different configurations, allowing the run to be customized to specific power requirements. Three-outlet receptacles then can be snapped into place anywhere along the track. The receptacles can be relocated and the system expanded as requirements change.

Kurland thought the solution looked good on paper, but was concerned about how it would all look after they put it on the ceiling. To his surprise, the low-profile raceway conformed to the ceiling without leaving any gaps. "It disappeared!" says Kurland. "When you look at the fixtures, you don't see the track." He says they also installed it under the service counter and on the inside drop of a rectangular table used for a table-lamp display to keep the cords from being visible.

New electrical wiring technology above and behind the scenes helped make possible the presentation of modern, traditional and classic lighting designs within a setting of mid-19th century solid oak floors and a swirling staircase. Kurland says he wanted people who came into the showroom to be impressed by what they saw when they entered, and it seems he's gotten his wish. "The first thing everyone comments on is how Arch Street Lighting looks," he says. "And everyone who comes in says 'Wow!'"