18th Century Windows

Early 18th Century Residential Casement Window

Location:  Drinker House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sash Opening:  16-½" x 36-3/8"

Courtesy of: Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service, and Charles E. Peterson, FAIA

Among the earliest operable windows in the seventeenth century English colonies were hinged casements; the design being carried over from England.  Typical frames were both in iron and wood arranged with one or two sash that opened outwards on hinges attached to the jambs.  Glazing for these windows consisted of small rectangular or diamond-shaped panes held in the sash frames by lead cames or wood muntins and reinforced with wood bars.  Available glass included broad or cylinder glass which came from glass blown in a cylinder, split and rolled into a flat sheet and then cut into panes.  The best quality, however, was crown glass which was blown into a disk and then cut into panes.  Windows were small in size and few in number, due to the cost of glass, which mostly had to be imported, and in northern climates, for greater protection against the harsh winter weather.  Following the introduction of vertical sliding sash early in the eighteenth century, the casement window fell from favor in this country.

Different crafts were involved in the construction of windows.  The frame and sash were usually prefabricated by a sash maker in a shop; installation of window panes was the job of the glazier; and the hardware was made by the blacksmith.

The casement window frame show above from the Drinker House in Philadelphia dates to the turn of the eighteenth century and was found sealed in what later became a party wall.  Missing both casement sash, the frame structure is characteristically out of the wood plank frame.

Early 18th Century Residential Casement Window

Location: Christian Duryea House, Brooklyn, New York

Sash Opening: 21-1/8" x 34-3/4"

The six-light wood casement sash comes from the Christian Duryea House in Brooklyn, New York (circa 1740). The sash opened inward toward the room. Note the typically wide early eighteenth century wood muntins, the proportions of the stiles and rails, and the hand-forged hardware. Physical evidence suggests that the sash was installed in an addition to the building around 1800 with the window simply being relocated from another area of the house.


1740s Window Shutter

Location:  Deshler-Morris House, Germantown, Pennsylvania

Size:  15-3/8" x 69" (one of a pair)

Courtesy of:  Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service

Wooden shutters have been a prominent feature on many American buildings since the eighteenth century.  Paneled shutters—particularly associated with the Georgian style—predominated until the end of the eighteenth century, when the “Venetian” or louvered variety gained favor.  The latter, which admitted air while excluding the sun’s rays, were especially appreciated in summer months.  Paneled shutters, on the other hand, were more effective in excluding icy blasts of wintry air.  They also provided an extra measure of security, being practically impenetrable when properly hung, closed, and secured from the inside. In the nineteenth century, there was the frequent practice of placing solid shutters on the ground floor and louvered ones on the upper stories.  By the late nineteenth century, shutters with louvers were mass produced and predominated over paneled shutters.

This late 1740s shutter is one of a pair of window shutters from the Deshler-Morris House in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and consists of three stacked panels.  The two strapped hinges are hand-forged and the hinges are riveted to the horizontal rails of the shutter and seated on an iron pintle attached to the window frame.

Deshler-Morris House in Germantown, Pennsylvania

Deshler-Morris House in Germantown, Pennsylvania

1760s Georgian-Style Residential Window

Location:  236 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sash Opening:  29" x 69"

Courtesy of:  Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service

The double-hung window as we know it today developed from vertical sliding sash first used in the American colonies at the turn of the eighteenth century.  The early “single-hung” windows had only one moveable sash, supported in an open position not by counter weights, but by a pin inserted through holes in the frame and sash.  By mid-century, features typical of a modern sash, such as two sash moving in vertical tracks counterbalanced by weights, were in use.  They proved durable, practical and adaptable during the next two centuries.

This window frame was set into a masonry wall at 236 Delancey Street in Philadelphia in the 1760s.  The frame is termed “plank front,” being fashioned of solid planks of wood rather than built up of thinner sections.  The frame has applied moldings, hand chiseled weight-boxes, fruitwood pulleys with metal axles, and jamb tenons extending from the sill to anchor the frame to the building’s masonry.  The frame would not have had a parting bead.

The upper fixed sash is one of the same period, but came from a neighboring building.  It has ovolo shaped muntins and matching ovolo moldings.  Both the upper and lower sash would each have held nine panes of glass.  The missing lower sash would have moved in the vertical sash run, counterbalanced by lead sash weights attached by sash chords run over the two pulleys.