Recently several historic churches in Seattle’s University District have announced that they will be demolishing their buildings to make way for mixed-use high rises. A couple of years ago I acted as an expert commentator on a Historic Seattle walking tour of the stained glass of University District churches. Two of the three being demolished were included on that tour (University Temple UMC and University Christian Church) and I’ve done work in the other (University Lutheran). While it’s clear that soaring property values, aggressive rezoning measures, and dwindling congregations unable to pay for upkeep of aging buildings is a clear path to demolition, one has to wonder if there are any possible adaptive reuse options or other organizations that could make use of these beautiful spaces without feeling the need to completely tear them down. It may not be appropriate in one of the richest cities in country, but here is an article on how one group managed to save a historic church and find a new life for it.
Here's an article on the future of Seattle's Pioneer Square prism glass. Interestingly, they weren't originally purple but have turned that color due to the manganese in the glass interacting with ultraviolet light. This is very common in windows from the 1800's and early 1900's. Selenium replaced manganese as the preferred clarifying agent in American made glass around 1915, but it wasn't immediately apparent that the glass would age differently.
Here's a great post from the National Trust for Historic Preservation listing many reasons why retrofitting historic windows to improve their energy efficiency can be as good or better than replacement windows. Besides preserving the look and feel of your house, not contributing to landfills, and being a better return on investment, the bonus reason at the end is central to the whole point as far as I am concerned...
There are several options ranging from simple weather stripping, traditional exterior storm windows, insulating cellular window shades, interior insulating panels, temporary cling film, and combinations of these that can greatly improve your window's efficiency and maintain the traditional appearance of the building.
Today's post focuses on a classic 1916 Tudor Revival house in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. I've lived and worked in this neighborhood for a long time, and I have to admit that I've spent years walking by this house, which sits in the middle of a triple city lot bounded by alleyways on two sides, the garden full of mature shrubs and Douglas firs, dreaming of what it would be like to live in. It was a mysterious house; the shutters were always closed tight and in years of passing by regularly I never saw anyone come or go. A few years ago it went on the market and the new owners began a substantial restoration and tasteful addition to fit their young family. I had previously talked with the architect who managed the restoration about how much I loved the home, and he invited me over to have a look at the windows. That said, please forgive the quality of the photos. I was visiting in the midst of an extensive restoration, so the lighting was poor and I had to take pictures around and through ladders. Let me tell you though, I was not disappointed. Right when you walk in the front door you pass this phoenix:
This window is really something, but it's only a taste of what awaits around the corner. The living room with its two story exposed truss roof, hand painted landscape murals, and massive brick fireplace with inglenooks is overlooked from a balcony off the master bedroom above.
Directly across from the entry is the fireplace.
Flanking the hearth is a pair of windows featuring Viking ships.
To the right of the entry, on the east wall, is a bank of windows with a morning glory motif and a mural above.
On the west end of the living room, near the fireplace, is a narrow staircase that climbs up to a small balcony. A large door and a pair of sidelights open to the master bedroom. The windows in this passage feature torches in the sidelights and a pair of dragons in the door. The balcony is pretty narrow, and on the other side of the door construction work was going on. Dust curtains made it difficult to get a good angle on these windows for photos, but check out the details. A lot of work went into forming perfect joints to highlight claws, eyes, and the tips of scroll work.
Finally, this little painted windmill scene once graced the kitchen, but was removed and turned into a piece of art illuminated by a built in light box in the new hall attaching the addition to the rest of the house.
This link shows some more complete photos of the interior when it was staged for sale, including a better view of that balcony, the original (!!!) kitchen, a lovely little breakfast nook, and some of the bedrooms, along with a little bit of the history of the home. This one was a real treat to visit, and this is still my prototypical dream house.
This is the first blog post documenting the historic stained glass and leaded glass windows that I come across during the course of my work in the Seattle area. Today's installment comes from a home in the Mount Baker neighborhood, built in 1910 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I was called out to assess damage done to a beveled glass sidelight window that had unfortunately been vandalized with the help of a softball sized rock.
In addition to the pair of beveled glass sidelights, the house had several beautiful types of stained glass windows common of the period in which it was built. This pair of windows graces the landing near the bottom of the stairs and feature backgrounds of textured light white opal which really makes them glow. This is especially effective since these windows face north and the house next door is only 15 or so feet away.
In the living room you'll find two pairs of these windows, which have clear beveled glass centers surrounded by by a textured cathedral glass and light opalescent glass rose design.
Further down, past the living room, you enter what I assume must be the study, which has an oriel window. In the upper light of each window section is a small leaded glass panel featuring a highly figured opalescent glass section in the side windows, and leaf designs in the center windows.
In addition to these windows, there are a few other traditional leaded glass diamond-pane and cross-pane windows in the upper bedrooms. These are just a really beautiful grouping of windows in a well preserved house.
I look forward to posting many more of these, and I have a pretty healthy backlog of photos to get through from years of doing this work.