“Double-hung with a twist:” FoldUp Windows from Heartwood Windows

The Historic Sherwood Inn, Skaneateles, NY.  FoldUp Windows, exterior.

The Historic Sherwood Inn, Skaneateles, NY. FoldUp Windows, exterior.

Some products are just difficult to improve. For instance, take the common wood pencil. No matter how much you spend on mechanics, fancy graphite or plastic casings, there are times when nothing performs quite like a good, solid wood pencil.  And guys, how about a quality shave with a straight razor? One can purchase the latest six-bladed, gel-infused cartridge, but nothing can compete with a professional close shave with a straight razor sitting in a barber’s chair – as long as you really trust the barber.  Until a few months ago, I was fairly convinced that there was another product that could be added to this list of basic, proven and dependable items that innovation should avoid –the classic design of the double-hung sash window.

The initial development of the double-hung sash window was, and still remains, brilliant. Developed in Great Britain during the  17thCentury, the window’s early design actually counters gravity, allows two adjustable areas of air flow from the top and bottom of the window, can be built to fit almost any sized opening, allows for ease of screen installation and does not project from the building’s wall. The historic double-hung window can generally be repaired over and over again for generations, perhaps making it the most economical window in human history.  To this day, they are still the most common type of window used in both new construction and in renovations. Historic double-hung windows that are maintained, will literally last hundreds of years.

While still an amazing architectural component, the double-hung is not perfect. No architectural element can claim perfection. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright even referred to them as “guillotine windows,” during his unapologetic promotion of casement windows.  And, while double-hung windows are dependable and have a classic appeal, they do not fit every building type and obviously do not serve every need to fill an opening in a wall.  The view out the window tends to get blocked by muntins that separate individual panes of window glass.  The bottom and top rails of each sash do have a way of also obstructing the view through the window.  While having ventilation at the top and bottom of the window opening is quite nice, there are times when a builder, architect or homeowner needs to have the entire space free of any obstruction at all for a variety of reasons; in other words, there are times when the entire window opening needs to be . . . well . . . open.  But, how could one achieve a classic look of a double-hung sash window, while at the same time offering a full opening?

The Historic Sherwood Inn, FoldUp Windows, interior open process.

The Historic Sherwood Inn, FoldUp Windows, interior open process.

Heartwood Windows recently released a product that does just that. The FoldUp Window was invented, designed and manufactured right here in western New York at Heartwood, a division of Rochester Colonial Manufacturing.  The look is incredibly traditional, built of traditional material, but this window folds up “from the middle,” doubling the opened space and not diminishing the area of usable living space in a given room. On numerous occasions I’ve seen hinges on top of a single-sash window that was built to resemble a double-hung. Those windows were generally large, bulky and cumbersome to operate. They usually were unlocked at the bottom, rotated on top-mounted hinges and were somehow hooked into place on the room’s ceiling. These FoldUp windows, however, are different.  There still exists, technically, two sashes that operate, but they operate by rotating where the sashes are joined together on the rails, instead of sliding. There are no hooks on ceilings and no hinges on the top of the window. I should also mention that these windows could have the potential to also solve building code egress issues that can be common hindrances in traditional design (the need to have a large enough opening to quickly vacate a space). The window is a double-hung with a twist.

The Historic Sherwood Inn.  FoldUp Windows, interior closed.

The Historic Sherwood Inn. FoldUp Windows, interior closed.

I am a preservationist. I will always be in love with the traditional, historic double-hung window – its look and its operation. I do not support replacing the quality historic window.  I will never waiver from my staunch defense of preserving the historic wood window on the grounds of not only aesthetics, but also economics. However, I do see some possible benefits with the new FoldUp window in certain circumstances; perhaps most notably in new construction that seeks compatibility with the old.  I can also envision well-designed additions to historic buildings possibly taking a look at these windows . . . sunrooms, porches, etc.  Restaurants, wanting that classic look and feel, but also desiring to bring in the outdoors to their customers might find these windows to be a viable option.

The Historic Sherwood Inn, FoldUp Windows, interior open.

The Historic Sherwood Inn, FoldUp Windows, interior open.

For the right purpose, these windows could be the right answer. It is refreshing to see innovation that has a real purpose behind it, as opposed to innovation as a marketing tool. Does Heartwood’s FoldUp window replace the traditional and historic double-hung? Not at all. But, does it make creative modifications that might have merit? Absolutely.  As with any new product, time will be of the essence in determining how the product performs over the course of its lifespan. And, as is customary, our organization does not endorse any product.  So, we do not make any statements endorsing any product’s quality or price. We always encourage the community to do their homework before any purchase or construction project.  While time and the longevity of use will be the judge on the overall product’s performance, I do applaud the creativity and ingenuity in its development.

You can check out Heartwood’s new FoldUp Window at their website, by using the following link. Click on “video clip” to see the windows in operation:  http://www.heartwoodwindowsanddoors.com/FoldUp.aspx

Written by The Landmark Society of Western New York Executive Director, Wayne Goodman.  All photos courtesy of Heartwood Windows.

Award of Merit: Bridge Square Building

The Landmark Society’s 2013 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Rochester’s historic City Hall, the spectacular Richardsonian Romanesque landmark located downtown at 30 Church Street. The Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations in our nine-county area who have made outstanding efforts in the preservation of their homes, historic properties, and landscapes. In anticipation of the upcoming Awards Ceremony we will be featuring some of this year’s award winners.

The Award of Merit is for the sympathetic rehabilitation of an historic building in our 9-county region completed within the past two years.

Bridge Square Building
242 West Main Street, City of Rochester

Photo courtesy of Richard Margolis

Photo courtesy of Richard Margolis

Located in the Bridge Square Historic District, this handsome industrial building is situated at the western gateway into the city’s downtown business district.  It was originally built around 1900 as the headquarters of the J. Hungerford Smith Company, manufacturers of flavored syrups and soda fountain products.  Its subsequent uses were a City Hall annex, a trade/high school, and, most recently, the Josh Lofton High School of the City School District. The building was purchased by Passero Associates, who rehabilitated it for mixed use, sustainable, design that includes their own offices, retail spaces, and loft-style apartments.

Photo Courtesy Gene Avallone

Photo Courtesy Gene Avallone

Major rehabilitation work included the replacement of much-altered exterior windows with new window sash fabricated in the style of the original, c.1900 windows.   Listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the project was completed by Passero Associates, in conjunction with Spoleta Construction, using the Federal Investment Tax Credit program for income-producing properties.

Photo Courtesy Don Corcoran Photography

Photo Courtesy Don Corcoran Photography

Visit our Success Stories page to see 2012 Preservation Award winners and stay tuned for more 2013 winners!

Window Restoration in Thousand Island Park

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at a recent window restoration project done by local craftsman (and former Landmark Society staff member), Steve Jordan. The project in the presentation below involved the repair and restoration of second floor windows in a commercial building in Thousand Island Park in Wellesley Island.

Thanks to Steve for sharing his work!

Looking for more information on the benefits of repairing your historic windows? The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great windows resource page with links to outside resources, information on energy efficiency and weatherization, and the pros and cons of repair vs. replacement.

You can also check out the Historic Preservation & Weatherization toolkit, produced by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

Preservation & Sustainability–Resources You Can Use


High Falls, Rochester NY

This weekend, The Landmark Society will be joining over 40 other organizations, businesses, and agencies as a vendor at the Greentopia Festival in High Falls. You might wonder, what is the purpose of this Greentopia and how does it possibly relate to The Landmark Society and historic preservation? First, the event itself is designed to celebrate the green movement, showcase what the region is doing to contribute to the movement, and open up a discussion about what sustainability and “green” really mean.

Genesee Valley Park, Rochester NY

That’s where we come in. Although preservation isn’t usually the first thing that leaps to most peoples minds’ when they hear the words “green” or “sustainable,” reusing our existing building stock, preserving our historic landscapes and rural spaces, and reinvesting in our urban centers and rural villages are all examples of recycling on a large scale. And, of course, there are added environmental benefits to preservation–most historic neighborhoods are walkable, older buildings were built to last with high quality materials, and most older buildings incorporate green features such as double-hung windows with operable upper and lower sash that allow you to maximize passive ventilation rather than blast the A/C.

Erie Canal & converted grain tower,
Pittsford NY

So come visit me this weekend at The Landmark Society’s table at Greentopia–I and other friendly Landmark Society staff will be there all weekend. I’ll be more than happy to share with you why preservation is a necessary part of ensuring the health and sustainability of our communities. Or, if you’re reading this post after Greentopia, explore some of the links below to learn more about preservation and sustainability and, more importantly, how you can help save our planet by saving our historic resources.

If you only read one thing, take a look at this article from the National Trust’s Preservation Magazine:
A Cautionary Tale–Amid our green-building boom, why neglecting the old in favor of the new just might cost us dearly. By Wayne Curtis.

From us, The Landmark Society:
8 reasons why preservation is an environmentally friendly activity
The Greenest Building – display board from Greentopia
Embodied Energy – display board from Greentopia
Preservation Tips – display board from Greentopia

From CITY Newspaper:
Closing the door on vinyl windows

From the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Sustainability & Historic Preservation
Weatherization Guide
Window Know-How: A Guide to Going Green
Historic Wood Windows Tip Sheet
Energy Efficient Strategies – Cold Climates
Energy Efficient Strategies – Main Street

From the NY State Historic Preservation Office:
Weatherization Toolkit

From Old House Journal:
Weatherstripping 101 (the print version of this article has more helpful photos and inserts)

The Greenest Building – This website calculates the amount of embodied energy contained in an existing building and the amount of energy required to demolish a building. You can even convert those numbers into gallons of gasoline.

Caitlin Meives is Preservation Planner with The Landmark Society. She’ll be spending this weekend celebrating her two favorite things–the natural and the historic built environments.