Main Stair Railing

Main Stair Railing
Simple elegant railing at the main stair

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Most of the original 1830 windows are still intact in the openings, but are in various stages of deterioration. The majority of windows are approximately 4' wide by 8' tall, are double hung, single glazed wood windows with a 6 over 6 pattern of panes. (6 panes in the lower sash and 6 in the upper). We believe the wood species is pine, but need to do more investigation on that. The original ropes were replaced by chains somewhere along the way, and the chains, pulleys, and weights are still in fairly good working order. The most interesting thing about these windows is that they were mortise and tenon construction, and pegged together at the corners of the sashes. Surprisingly, the muntins and mullions go straight through the sashes, and you can see the end  of the tenons on the edge of the sash. In some cases, shims remain, which secured those connections. We are taking a conservative approach to window repair/replacement.

Here are some close-ups of some of those original mortise /tenon joints at the sashes:

First, any window that is in good enough shape to be reused, will be. Windows which have deterioration will be treated for that on a case by case basis, i.e. rotted sash, sills, etc. will be filled with epoxy filler (Abatron) where possible. Only if it is impossible to fix, will the original wood be replaced with new, in the form of a dutchman, etc. 

The contractor restoring the windows is Allegheny Restoration, from Elkins, West Virginia. They were selected because of their approach to window restoration and their experience. In addition to many other projects, they restored the windows at the Benjamin Latrobe Cathedral in Baltimore. Interestingly, Latrobe was also the architect for the first Capitol Building in DC, and the original buildings in the Allegheny Arsenal, just a few blocks away from the house in Lawrenceville. 

All of the sashes have been removed and taken to the shop where they will be steamed to remove paint, glazing putty, etc. The wood parts will then be repaired as necessary, and the glass will be reglazed. In addition, new weather stripping elements will be added at the sides of the sashes and at the meeting rails of the top and bottom sashes, to minimize air infiltration. Any broken glass panes will be replaced with new "old" glass. Where original windows were totally replaced , new replacement windows will be made to match the original windows.  

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