Alternative to Losing Historic Windows

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Joined: June 2nd, 2014, 1:47 pm
Full Name: John Schnitzler
Location: Eliot, ME
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Alternative to Losing Historic Windows

Postby BuildingForensics56+ » June 2nd, 2014, 1:59 pm



This window fragment, dating to 1747, from a High Georgian period house in Rollinsford, NH, serves as an example of how a wooden Dutchman repair, done more than 100 years ago, extended its efficiency and functionality.
The house where this window came from was discovered by the author in 1982 and was in deplorable but restorable condition. It had been in the same family’s ownership for many generations and was in need of serious repair. The author approached the owners to inquire if the house was for sale or was going to be restored. They were interested in these options but ultimately another person(s) did the restoration. Unfortunately in their restoration, this person(s) removed most of the historic features from the house including this original window. The author salvaged the window from a dumpster on the front lawn of the house.
As you can see, the window has a nicely molded casing with standard style thumbnail bead and an ogee backband with an atypical but lovely high end crown pediment. This 270-year-old artifact has been repaired at least 100 years ago (late 19th century) and continued a functional performance until the 1980s, when the author recovered it. With a little effort, it could still function today as a window.
It has no severe issues; there’s no rot. It does have some checking and erosion at the top of the crown molding but a simple covering of lead flashing would continue its lifespan.
The late 19th century repair was made with in-kind materials: white pine with tight growth rings, and was lapped into the pediment, nailed face on with standard steel cut nails of the day. This wooden patch remains tightly affixed to the window; it’s done well.
The author pulled off this patch to examine how it was fitted to the pediment. It appears that the patchwork was not glued or pre-pasted with lead putty or paint. The patch of white pine is as dense as the pine in the original window cap at 20 growth rings per inch. The original window has lasted all these years and the repair has, too! The fact is, this window could still be on a house with just a little flashing added to address the checking and new paint.

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Joined: April 13th, 2011, 7:34 pm
Full Name: John Leeke
Location: Portland
Organization: Historic HomeWorks
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Location: Portland, Maine

Re: Alternative to Losing Historic Windows

Postby johnleeke » June 15th, 2014, 3:40 pm

John, thanks for documenting this early repair. I think it could be the basis for a standard showing how to do an effective wood dutchman on exterior window woodwork.
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