‘Tis Better to Keep than Replace

San Antonio’s Office of Historic Preservation, with support from the San Antonio Conservation Society, offered a three day community symposium and workshop on wood window restoration last week.  For us preservationists, this was a wonderful thing.  To see a building with its wooden windows replaced makes us shudder, and plus, the appearance of the building changes completely, and not in a good way.

The “OHP” brought in experts in historic preservation to discuss sustainability, energy efficiency, and the economics of restoring historic buildings.  The goal of the symposium was to provide citizens with information about the real value and oft overlooked advantages gained by preserving buildings.  Professionals with specific experience in restoration were there to answer any questions regarding problems that may come up during a restoration. 

Villa Finale was very pleased to assist the OHP by providing a venue for lunch, which we set up on the terrace.  Afterward, the group toured the site’s exterior and listened to a presentation about the restoration of Villa Finale’s windows by architect Sue Ann Pemberton,  of  Mainstreet Architects.  Sue Ann and her firm will be performing the restoration on every exterior opening in Villa Finale, from the banal basement grates to the grand floor-to-nearly-ceiling windows.  

For all those readers who may be grimacing, thinking we’re all off our rockers and of the efficiency of replacement windows, think again.  Properly restored, wooden windows cut energy costs, window construction employs local crafts people (most replacement windows are not made locally, or even in the United States),  restoring windows keeps perfectly salvageable materials out of landfills and lastly, wooden windows are just plain beautiful.

group courtyard

The group of over thirty people listen as Sue Ann talks about Villa Finale.

Sue Ann keeps participants in rapt attention by talking windows.

Sue Ann keeps participants in rapt attention by talking windows.

Chris Roddy leads the group along a heavily windowed side of Villa Finale.

Chris Roddy leads the group along a heavily windowed side of Villa Finale.

Sue Ann reminisces about the front window that slammed down on her hand because it didn't have any sash cords.

Sue Ann reminisces about the front window that slammed down on her hand because it didn't have any sash cords.

–Meg Nowack

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