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Window Restoration

Working on recent school upgrade projects, we have encountered a number of historic buildings that originally had wood windows. While most of the original windows have been replaced in these buildings, a handful of the original windows survive. At 80 to 100 years old, most of these windows suffer from years of deferred maintenance. A recent project to assess and recommend repairs for wood windows at two schools shed new light on the possibility of restoring decayed wood windows in historic schools. Our partners in these assessments were historic preservation architect Maya Foty at Architectural Resources Group and wood window expert Amy McAuley at Oculus Fine Carpentry.

The two schools we examined have very different characters. The first is a 1920s-era building with double-hung windows, while the second is a modern building from the 1950s with window walls stretching nearly the full width of each classroom. We were intrigued to learn that these large window assemblies are composed of early Anderson Flexivent wood windows, a new product at the time the building was constructed. We found that these windows are in fair to good condition and can be restored mostly with simple wood repairs and repainting.

The windows in the 1920s school building appear to be in a much more advanced state of decay. However, closer examination demonstrated that the basic window structures are sound, and the worst damage can be repaired with a combination of wood infill repairs and use of epoxy fillers and consolidants. The assessment confirmed that window restoration is a feasible alternative to complete window replacement. The eleven windows to be restored surround the front entrance to the school and are the only original windows remaining on the front façade. We look forward to seeing these historic windows come back to life to greet the school’s occupants for decades to come.

Andrew Pearson, Associate

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