Friday, January 15, 2016

Windows into Our World

By Ron Wannamaker, Lead Carpenter

In an ongoing effort to show readers what the carpenters and painters do at Shelburne Museum, we plan on monthly updates in the form of this blog.

With 38 buildings and a boat that have fifteen or more windows each, that's a lot of “sash” to maintain. Every window is normally made up of two sash per window, the upper and lower moving parts. This past year we have developed a two tiered approach to addressing the Museum’s windows. The first priority is triage for broken windows like the one above. If we look up and notice glass wiggling around in the wind we grab that one right away. And the second priority is working our way around the other buildings that are prominent to the visitors. In the winter season, when we can’t work outside, we remove as many windows as we can to keep the paint shop a little too busy. We’re also creating sash with animal screening to better disguise all the necessary venting equipment that climate controls our collections.
Rustic Hat and Fragrance transom reglazed.
The sash are brought to the carpentry shop, deglazed (the glass removed), and dismantled if replacement parts are needed. Once they are rebuilt, we move them over to the paint shop for glazing and painting. The painters make them look like (a couple) hundred bucks and then we carpenters pop them back into their window openings.

Diamond Barn sash ready for install and Norton Barn being rebuilt.
As our visitors stroll through the grounds they may notice a dark piece of plywood here and there temporarily keeping out the weather while the team works behind the scenes to save and preserve the historic buildings that house our varied collections. The broken window theory is true; happy windows, happy buildings, happy people.  

As in in most preservation work, doing the job well means no one notices.


Ron Wanamaker has been in the trades as a Preservation Carpenter for 29 years, the last 18 of which he worked in Vermont on many prominent public and private projects. He came to Shelburne Museum in 2014 and has been enjoying his time working on exhibits and the many historic buildings on the grounds. He maintains a shop and private practice in Burlington's historic South End.