We have the unique privilege of preserving history. And sometimes we uncover history that has been buried for years. But did we uncover something new?
We restore and preserve buildings of historical significance, from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to the Massachusetts State House. We love history and take great care in our unique line of work to preserve and restore history including wood paneling, doors, ornate windows and historic staircases.
On a recent project, we were working on restoring the exterior of a building dating back to 1726, including window restoration. Over the years, we’ve restored windows, mended antique shutters and stabilized the columns on this historic gem. While the building was getting a new shingle roof, we were doing selective clapboard and trim replacements and restoring windows and sills.
While disassembling the sash for restoration, our foreman discovered a very unique window jamb construction, and Rich Muckle, company preservation expert, evaluated the find. It appeared we uncovered the original and very early counterbalance system for the sash. There were no counterweights present. The pulley was wood, and the weight pocket was plowed into the 2 ½” x 3 ½’ jamb. To Muckle, the plow looked too clean to have been made after the jamb was installed.
As a preservation expert, Rich does not recall ever seeing this on an early window, certainly not in a building dating from 1726. His understanding is that weight and pulley counterbalancing didn’t begin in the United States until the mid-19th century.
So, what did we uncover? Is it possible this system was brought over to our country?
Our work is both rewarding and fascinating. In this case, we really wish the walls and, in this case, the window, could tell us the story of this window jamb construction. We are all ears.