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Archive for the ‘Historic Home Information’ Category

The bow window has always struck me as a wonderful architectural feature. I love its curve within the four or five panes that typically make up a bow window. The curve adds a visual softness to what is so often an angular and straight lined building. The “bow” or curve feature allows more light to enter the home and provides a wider view to look out upon.

I saw this home in St. Paul earlier this week. It not only has a bow window, but the upper panes feature beveled glass. Beveled glass has angled edges. One benefit of beveled glass is that the angled edges act as prisms in the sunlight, providing a spectrum of colors not present in regular clear glass. Imagine a rainbow of color streaming in your home through a beveled window! This color diffraction also highlights the beveled glass, making it more of a focal point within the room than other glass. An antique beveled glass window will give this magical effect with both natural and artificial light sources.

Most, if not all, beveled glass windows were made by hand in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There were many time-consuming steps involved in the process, thereby making this type of glass expensive. Even so, Americans embraced these visually stunning windows and, as such, our country produced the widest variety and best quality of these elegant windows. An antique beveled glass window is superior to a modern version due to the differences in glass composition, the thicker glass which allows for a more refractory surface on each piece, and the inherent extraordinary craftsmanship of a hand-made bevel that allows for greater prismatic light.

A bow window in a St. Paul, MN home

St. Paul, MN home with beveled bow window

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As a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I like to raise awareness of the benefits of repairing windows rather than replacing them. Often times people think they are improving the energy efficiency by replacing the windows. Perhaps not.

“More heat is typically lost though your roof and un-insulated walls than through your windows. Adding just 3 and 1/2 inches of insulation in your attic can save more energy than replacing your windows.”

Has this quote caught your attention? It’s pulled from an article published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Read it for information about the benefits of keeping your old windows (they’ll last far longer). It also covers wood window basics, maintenance of wood windows, lead-based paint safety, and winter tips (including the most important job of a window lock. Hint: it’s not for security).

Windows Tip Sheet (National Trust for Historic Preservation-July 2008)

If you’d like to read more, go here:  Historic windows and energy efficiency

And here’s another blog entry regarding Help for Historic Windows

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“A man looking out of an open window never sees as much as the same man looking directly at a closed window.”

–Charles Baudelaire

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Built in 1890. A “Not So Big House” that is charming and sweet. I love the red!

St. Paul home: built in 1890

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