Healing the ‘eyes of the home’: Workshop planned to teach historic window repair, restoration

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History buffs and DIY enthusiasts will unite on Veterans Day for a hands-on workshop geared toward restoring and repairing historic windows.

“Historic windows have aesthetic and material attributes that cannot be replicated with a modern replacement window,” said Wilson Preservation Planner Dana Corson. “And I think that’s evident when you see any home with replacement windows — something seems incongruent about the structure —and that is because windows, as the ‘eyes’ of the home, play a huge role in outward appearance. They’re a character-defining feature.”

Preservation of Wilson, the Wilson Historic Preservation Commission and the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office are partnering to host the Going Local: Old Windows Workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Nadal House at 1007 Nash St. NW.

The workshop instructors will be Ed Lackie, who began renovating the Gold-Harrell House in 2012, and John P. Wood, preservation and restoration specialist for the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office.

Wood said the workshop will start with a lecture to give an overview on restoration, repair and energy efficiency of historic windows and doors. After the discussion, participants will put the lesson to work on windows from the Nadal House, which is undergoing renovation by Preservation of Wilson. Repairs will range from removing the window sash, paint and glass, performing epoxy repairs, installing glazing putty and re-roping sash weights.

Corson said since starting with the city in September, she’s received frequent inquiries about window replacement. She said in addition to being more durable due to construction with old-growth wood, historic windows are made from individual parts that can be repaired in pieces whereas replacement windows are often constructed as a unit, therefore they have to be replaced if one component fails.

“The average person in the U.S. stays in the same house for between 5 and 7 years. When it takes upwards of 40 years to recoup in energy savings what was spent to replace the windows, the expense will never be recouped,” she said. “Other studies have pegged the number of years to recoup costs at 222 (years). Paired with the fact that an average replacement window lasts only 20 years, those are not good odds.”

Preservation of Wilson Executive Director Kathryn Bethune said she’s optimistic this workshop will be the first in a series about restoring historic homes. The Nadal House was purchased by the group, which has received help from volunteers to remove carpet, sand the back deck and porch and complete other projects.

“It is going very well. We have a long list of things we’ve already done and we’re getting cost estimates on other work,” she said. “We’re narrowing down our focus, so we can determine how much more work we want to do and when to put it back on the market.”

Until the house is sold, Bethune said the 1916 property provides the opportunity for hands-on restoration projects such as the workshop.

Registration is required by Nov. 8 for the workshop at a cost of $25 with lunch included. For more information, call 252-234-7694.