Windows and Stones

The construction of the new workshop building continues, and so far everything is looking good. The foundation, which was not present beneath the original 113 year old structure, has been completed and the framing of the new structure is nearly complete.  In parallel, I continue to work on window restoration, soliciting the help of my daughter for some of the re-glazing.

We salvaged three windows from the original structure for reuse in the new workshop building, but still needed an additional pair of windows to replace two of the old building’s windows, one which was missing and the other which was too rotted for reuse.  My wife and I toured southeastern Pennsylvania antique shops and architectural salvage yards vainly searching for old windows that matched the ones that needed to be replaced.  It was a difficult search. At one roadside architectural salvage yard, the proprietor was reduced on an excessively hot day to pulling old windows, many of them rotted, from tall weeds behind a decrepit shed in the rear of his establishment in order to find ones that met our specifications. He was unsuccessful.

It turns out, as we discovered by day’s end, that old wooden vintage windows in good condition are not easy to find.  They are a hot commodity, with value both for reuse in old homes, of which there are many in southeastern Pennsylvania, and for re-purposing as wall decorations.  We were told by several store proprietors that as soon they receive a new batch of vintage wooden windows, the windows often go right back out the door after they are purchased in bulk by contractors or by re-sellers.  It was therefore  stressful to find ourselves at one establishment competing with another couple who apparently were also looking for old windows.  I was ready to wrestle the other couple to the ground if I saw them looking at a window that was close to my specifications.  This ended up being unnecessary since we saw no windows that met our or the other couple’s specifications.

On the second day of our “window shopping” excursion we stopped at an antique shop in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania.  A friend had spied stacks of windows on this shop’s lower porch during a recent drive-by and notified my wife a few days before our visit.  Upon our arrival, with my wife quickly distracted by other antiques being sold at the shop, I took a bee-line right to the shop’s lower porch.  Sure enough, there were about 50 windows of assorted sizes stacked in various areas of the porch.  I immediately took out my trusty tape measure and starting measuring.  I hit pay dirt. There were a number of windows that were in decent condition (i.e. no dry rot or insect damage) and of the size that I needed.  These windows weren’t as old as the 120+ year old windows that I was replacing (they did not have “wavy” glass), nor did they have the same number of panes as the old windows (16 panes in the old vs. 6 panes in the shop’s windows). However, with construction of the workshop moving quickly forward and the contractor needing the new windows to complete his framing, I could not afford to be picky.  Thus, with the dimensions being the most important consideration, I purchased two of the windows at $10 apiece.

Like the older windows that I salvaged from the old workshop, these “new” old windows needed reconditioning.  With the help of my daughter, we sanded off as much of the loose paint as possible and re-glazed them. The glazing putty was then allowed to dry for two weeks and today I primed them for painting. They now await a coat of paint, which I hope to apply tomorrow.

Re-glazing the “new” old windows purchased in Schwenksville.
The 120+ year old windows salvaged from the original workshop. Here they have been re-glazed, primed and ready for a coat of paint.

While my wife and I were searching for windows, the work on the workshop itself was progressing nicely and perhaps better than I had hoped, thanks to an accommodating contractor who, like us, is a fan of old buildings.  During the excavation of the foundation he uncovered what appeared to be the dumping ground for the excess stone that was used in 1903 to construct the foundation of the Mason Lodge and to extend the Servant House’s pre-1785 chimney to accommodate that building’s second floor construction. These stones were large, with one measuring 3-1/2 feet in length. The stones were pulled out and set aside. Some were used by the contractor to line the outside of the cinder block foundation to give the foundation a stone-wall appearance, thereby providing some architectural consistency with other buildings on the property. The use of the remaining stones has yet to be determined. Options include another stone wall on the property or perhaps an outdoor stone fireplace. Suggestions are welcomed.

Stones that were uncovered during the construction of the new workshop’s foundation.
Stones added to the outside of the foundation cinder blocks to provide the foundation a more vintage appearance consistent with other buildings on the property.

Stones weren’t the only items unearthed during the excavation of the foundation. Also found buried beneath the old workshop was an old bottle, a large rusted cut nail and an ornamental wood piece, the use of which is unknown. Unfortunately no coins or other items of value were discovered.

Next week the contractor returns following a one-week hiatus to begin roofing and enclosing the workshop’s frame.  I understand that the custom wood siding, cut to match the original 1903 siding that is still resides on the Mason Lodge, will be available from the mill in about a week.  I am eager for the workshop exterior to be complete . Once the exterior is finished, I will then take charge and begin construction of the interior, including building a new workshop bench and shelving from salvaged wood from the original workshop. Once the workshop is completed, I will have a place for my tools and a place to perform other restorations that are needed, including the stripping and refinishing of old doors and shutters. Yes, at the Neebor Lee work begets work.

Items found in the soil beneath the old workshop.
The new workshop.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Amy J Kirkpatrick says:

    I live up in Luzerne County. Here is a source near me for old windows should you find another need:


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