December Meeting Recap – Historic Hatton House

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Tanya Keith and Doug Jotzke welcomed us back for an in-depth look at their windows.

Living Room Windows - Hatton House

In the history of Hatton House the windows have taken a beating. Fortunately, many of the original windows remain or were re-created in attempted repairs. The two previous owners each took a crack at bringing the windows back to their original beauty but neither of them completed the job, leaving Hatton House with a hodge podge of window conditions and materials.

With an eye toward planning the windows as a more comprehensive project we looked at some resources for how to organize the work. The City of Phoenix, Arizona has a step by step guide to planning and executing a window project on a historic structure. Many of the points in their list apply to the Hatton House project so we used the Phoenix plan as a guide.

(Link to the Phoenix guide: http://phoenix.gov/webcms/groups/internet/@inter/@dept/@dsd/documents/web_content/pdd_hp_pdf_00086.pdf)

Hatton House has windows in several categories:

  • Drafty windows that need attention to the frames, sashes, and glazing   Drafty Window Drafty Window
  • Decorative stained glass that has a combination of new and original wood and stain that need to be matched up.  Stained Glass
  • Sashes, wood replacement windows, and decorative stained glass that have water damaged muntins and sashes from condensation  Condensation Damage Condensation Damage

The draftiest windows happen to be near the center of the house where the thermostat is. For energy efficiency it might make sense to work on those first.

The windows with condensation would probably be best served by adding exterior storm windows. Historically appropriate storms would have to be constructed, so that’s a project that could be ongoing if they hired out the job of building the storms.

Tanya has a good mentor and a growing range of expertise with stain and shellac so the windows with mismatched materials is the project with the smallest learning curve.

All of these factors are being considered in their plan for how to prioritize and plan the work on their windows, along with the “annoyance factor,” which Tanya describes as “which project is bugging me the most on that particular day.”

We talked about balancing the importance of planning out the steps of a project with the possibility of rehabber burn-out. It’s important to understand your own threshold for working on one part of a project and build in variety if you think that would help you stay productive.

In Tanya and Doug’s case, it sounds like Doug could be in charge of making a spreadsheet with a big picture view of the goals for the windows and Tanya could work at knocking out one project at a time from that list until all the projects are done.

That documentation of progress will be a huge motivator to keep working. Large projects get daunting and it’s hard to see the progress you’ve made in the context of the bigger picture when you’ve just spent three hours with a wad of steel wool and a bottle of denatured alcohol stripping one window frame. The Hatton House blog (www.historichattonhouse.com) and sharing their story with the Rehabbers Club will hopefully help keep that motivation going.

(We always welcome submissions of before and after pictures, in-process pictures, and descriptions of your work on our website, so let us know if you’d like to contribute!)

As part of the discussion about windows we also branched off into talking about wood refinishing. Tanya has been having great success with cleaning, stripping, and refinishing with shellac, especially in areas of her home where sections of wood were partially stained and left unfinished. She’s had to carefully blend in stain colors to match up with the existing stain, and apply shellac in creative ways to hide the transition. Here’s an example of some of that work in progress:

Shellac Refinishing - Hatton House

On the left you can see the very dark, almost black original finish. It’s shellac with a lot of wax buildup that has darkened over the years. On the right you can see the door which was stripped with denatured alcohol, stained, and refinished with a new coat of shellac. In the center, just to the left of the hinge, you can see a section of the trim that Tanya tested to see how the underlying stain color would look after stripping off the darkened original finish. Since most of the first floor windows also include trim around them that will need this kind of treatment, that will have to be factored into the project planning too.

We’ll be checking in on Hatton House again to take a look at these projects as they unfold, hopefully in warmer months!

Check back soon for our January meeting announcement and future workshops in response to popular demand.

Happy Rehabbing!