Monday, November 11, 2013

Window Types for Historic Houses

Thank you all for the well wishes and congratulations on the arrival of our twin girls. We are all hanging in there and adjusting to life with these sweet babies. Sleep is certainly a luxury sometimes hard to come by and our days are a never-ending cycle of nursing, changing diapers, laundry and baby chores. Thank goodness I have family to help out!

Now on to the real post: I'm warning you now, I may go on a *bit* of a rant here when it comes to windows in historic houses. As you all probably know, I am VERY partial to retaining original windows not just because it preserves the original fabric and historic integrity of the property, but also for practical, sustainable, functional and economic reasons.

But before I get too much into why old houses need to retain their original windows (perhaps I'll save it for the next post) , I'd like to start by highlighting some common types of original historic windows and the various ways that a lot of homeowners end up replacing them. Sometimes when an older home is purchased the owner may find the original windows were already replaced, and they may have the task of choosing new ones that best fit the historic character of the home.

Here are some various types you may see on older or historic buildings:

1. Double hung, wooden, 6/6 sash

Beaufort, NC

Chowan County, NC

2. Double hung, wooden, 2/2 sash

Midway, KY

Perquimans County, NC

3. Double hung, wooden 1/1 sash

4. Double hung, wooden 4/4 sash

Add caption

5. Double hung, 9/9 sash

Andrews-Moore House, Franklin County, NC

Window from Concord United Methodist Church, ca. 1928, McDowell County, NC

7. Fixed windows

Ernest Swarts House, Guilford County, NC

Interior of Ernest Swarts House, Guilford County, NC

8. Aluminum awning or "hopper" style windows (typically found on mid-century buildings)

9. Decorative, leaded glass, or stained glass windows (often fixed)

Woodford County, KY

10. Casement windows, wood or metal

Durham County, NC

Durham County, NC

This is just a small sampling of various types of windows found on historic buildings. Many more types exist not shown here that you may be familiar with or have seen before. For example, some houses have "cottage style" double-hung wood sash windows, with a six-over-one sash profile.

What window types do you have in your historic house? Or perhaps you may have a type not shown here that is common to your region?


  1. Our house was built in 1927 and it has wooden 3/1 windows. Our home was added onto in the early 40's and that has wooden casement windows, they are my favorite. Between the two styles we have 57 windows, so needless to say they don't get cleaned often. I love your post about historic houses. Good luck with those beautiful babies.

  2. Beautiful windows! We have a new construction home now with the vinyl double hung windows, but our old house was a bungalow built in 1914 with old double hung, wooden 1/1 sash. I really loved the windows, even though they did let a lot of air in! Our bedroom had windows all over the walls which was great, but it was always either too hot or too cold.

  3. I'm amazed you found time to write about windows! Interesting post!

  4. We have #2 - double hung, wood, 2/2 throughout our main farm house. Some of them are original 1860s, the others were matched and purchased when the house was expanded in the 1960s. I still need to send you barn pics! Will work on that, but I'm sure you've been busy with your sweet daughters, so I'll not feel late at all. :o)

    Best, Emily Grace

  5. Oh dear. Better enjoy sleep now while they tend to do the same for the next few weeks. Haha!

    On the topic at hand, I understand why some people elect to replace those classic windows. But nowadays, there are ways to preserve them and actually make them energy-efficient while maintaining the original look of the window. It may cost more at first, but at least your window doesn’t look out of place and ruin the overall feel of the house.


  6. We see mostly double hung windows in the neighborhood, although there’s the occasional casement windows from time to time. Strangely, I don’t think I’ve noticed it anyone was sporting a fixed one. Now there’s something to look out for and occupy myself while going to work. Haha!

    Rolf Matchen