Need Help Greening Your Wood Windows? Check this out!

Posted on: July 18th, 2008 by Patrice Frey 4 Comments


windowgraph.jpgWindows tend to be a "flash point" in the dialogue between green building advocates and preservationists, with preservationists preferring to retain character-defining windows, and green building advocates often arguing that it is necessary to replace windows to improve energy performance. It's safe to say that the National Trust gets more questions about this issue than any other related to the Sustainability Initiative, and we receive many requests for step-by-step technical assistance for greening historic windows. Our new Tip Sheet for Historic Wood Windows addresses many of these questions. The tip sheet, which was prepared by Rebecca Williams of the Northeast Office, explores the environmental benefits of retaining wood windows and offers suggestions for greening windows.

Interestingly, data from the U.S. Dept. of Energy finds that windows usually account for about 10% of energy loss in buildings, while walls, ceilings, and floors account for 31% of thermal loss. And as Barbara Campagna and I have mentioned in previous blog entries, studies have demonstrated that properly weatherized historic windows perform about as well as new, thermally resistant windows. Nevertheless, there continues to be concern about the issue of windows, and the widespread perception that going green automatically requires replacing windows.

The Windows Tips Sheet is really just the beginning of our work on the issue. Because this topic is so important, we’ve established a comprehensive Historic Windows Assessment Project to study windows more comprehensively.  Thanks to partial funding from the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology, the first phase of our Historic Windows Assessment Project will compare historic windows to the latest in green technology and create a "decision matrix" to help building owners decide the most appropriate path to improving their windows. The research will be undertaken with scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

The second phase of the research will look at windows in the context of thermal loss in the entire building to help demonstrate the importance of looking at buildings holistically, rather than focusing on one source of thermal loss. The third phase will look at the total life cycle impacts associated with replacing rather than reusing an existing window. In other words, instead of just looking at energy saved through operation of a new window, this study will look at the environmental costs of manufacturing new windows and replacing them periodically since they typically cannot be repaired.

In the meantime, have a look at the Tip Sheet, and tell us what you think!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lost in the Flood: The Vavra House, Cedar Rapids

Posted on: July 15th, 2008 by Sarah Heffern


Last week, staff from our Midwest Office visited Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which was devastated by last month's floods. In the video below, Michael Richards, a homeowner they met -- whose residence is slated for demolition -- talks about his home, and its role in both the history of Cedar Rapids and as a part of his personal history. It is, in Mr. Richards' own words, a reminder that historically important structures are not just grand buildings, but also the, "small homes and traditional neighborhoods" that were lost in the flood.

Information on dealing with flood damage is available on our website.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

It’s Rally Cap Time for Tiger Stadium

Posted on: July 11th, 2008 by Matt Ringelstetter


Tiger StadiumWednesday marked a sad day for a two-time member of the National Trust’s List of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Although demolition began in June, the most significant damage to Detroit’s Tiger Stadium began this week to the park that legends like Ty Cobb, Willie Horton, and Hank Greenberg once called home field. The stadium opened in 1912 and owed its unique design to the corner location on Michigan Avenue and Trumball Boulevard. In addition to its corner design, Tiger Stadium featured a signature 125 foot tall flagpole to the left of center field and an upper deck that overhung right field by ten feet.

The Stadium has played host to some of the most fabled moments of America’s sport, such as Babe Ruth’s 700th home run in 1934, the voluntary end of Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive game streak, and what is considered to be the longest confirmed home run in the history of the game—a shot by Ruth that traveled close to 600 feet on the fly.

Is there any hope for the ballpark? Or will it meet the same demise as Ebbetts, Comiskey, and Forbes? The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, a Corktown based non-profit, is trying to prevent just that, and is raising money to help save part of the historic stadium for use as a banquet hall, museum and office space. Time is running out, but the efforts of the Conservancy and others are in the right direction, and need all the help they can get.

Read Preservation Magazine's February article on "Detroit's Field of Dreams."

Hearts Break as Tiger Stadium Falls [Detroit News]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Restoring New Orleans: National Trust Volunteers

Posted on: July 11th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


I recently had the pleasure of accompanying twenty-five friends of the National Trust to New Orleans where we spent one week volunteering through the Rebuilding Together New Orleans program. We worked on the interior of a house in the Hollygrove neighborhood, the exterior of a house in the St. Roch neighborhood and finished up the week organizing the salvage materials at RTNO's warehouse. The warehouse stores architectural details such as doors, windows, brackets, columns, etc. from demolished homes for resale. The RTNO keeps the price as minimal as possible - just enough to meet their warehouse operating expenses. The one rule they have is that the materials must be used in New Orleans. It's a way to recycle the local materials that would otherwise be lost.

The National Trust volunteer group really made a difference in New Orleans and everyone returned with a personally rewarding experience. Jessica Anderson, from Dallas, TX, described her time with the group:

"Having never been there before my trip with the National Trust, I must say that New Orleans is one of the most charming cities you can visit. While talking with locals during the week, I feel as though we may never truly know all the benefits the city will reap from the good work our team put forth during the week—it is obvious that the city of New Orleans will be continuously aided by the creativity, innovation and energy put forth by our group's members. I am grateful to the Trust for providing inspiring leaders who encouraged us throughout the week, regardless of how warm the New Orleans summer "breezes" may have been.

The tour of the historic section of the city introduced us to the beauty and calm that is quintessentially New Orleans. The old fashioned St. Charles Streetcar was wonderful, cruising along through town toward museums, the zoo, galleries, and, of course, the local watering holes – where the delightful mint juleps were enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Since returning home from the trip, I find myself not only reminiscing about the camaraderie that takes place while making midnight trips with new friends to Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets, but also the genuine Southern hospitality and charm – our trip proved to me that New Orleans literally has something for everyone, from the demure to the risqué!"

by Rachel Russell

Statewide and Local Partnerships

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Oklahoma's capital, Guthrie. Or, not.

Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by Lori Feinman


img_2305.jpgYou've heard the story of the movement of the US Capital from Philadelphia to the humid, swampy, cow town of Washington. But that was all about the federal government being independent of the states, being able to secure itself, yadda yadda, yawn. The much more interesting and positively scandalous story is that of the move of the Oklahoma state capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. Hear that, and all of a sudden the incredible Victorian building stock in this town makes perfect sense. As does the pride and hard work that the residents of Guthrie have put into preserving the character of the town. On the Guthrie field session, you will join native Charles Scott on a walking tour of the town, hearing historical tidbits related to the buildings as well as learning about the tools that Gutherians (did I just make up a word?) use to maintain and support their NHL district. Outside of Guthrie, the tour visits what really must be one the of the most unusual adaptive use properties in the country- a former Masonic Children's home from the depression era, reused as a combination office, home, and event space, each function succeeding wonderfully. Lunch will be served here before the in-depth tour, the details of which I will keep to myself - you'll have to attend to hear about it all. A full day in Guthrie is surprising and inspiring, like all of this part of Oklahoma.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

"I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane": Final Thoughts on PLT 2008

Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


It has been a few days since we had to leave cool (and apparently unseasonably rainy) Portland, Maine to return to the humidity that is Washington in the summer, but the thirty-four participants of this year’s Preservation Leadership Training left with a lot more baggage (the good kind, of course). As Robin from Maryland said, “We're back home and all suffering from withdrawal! New friends, a great educational experience, a fabulous city!”

Let’s see what they took home with them:

Preservation Leadership Training Suitcase

  1. One massive ten-pound notebook filled with written resources ranging from fundraising tips to economics of historic preservation.
  2. A pocketful of Don Rypkema’s money (good questions everyone!).
  3. Tools for reenergizing their preservation work in states across the country.
  4. Maybe a little less sleep….
  5. And new network of 34 people from across the country that they can talk to on a regular basis.

The Team Project—The Baxter Building

At the dedication ceremony for the Baxter Public Library on February 21, 1889 James Phinney Baxter said: “I have reared a structure of wood and stone. You are to build character.” At the team project presentations this past Friday the five teams attempted to do just that. Each team made proposals ranging from a culinary school to mix use development for art and architecture, a retail arts incubator project, a center for preservation studies and folk arts, and finally the new home for two special collections which would effectively return the Baxter Building to its original use as a library.

These ideas fermented after early morning interviews, late nights and lots and lots of coffee. Additionally, each team pulled from personal experiences and lectures to come up with the five very unique presentations. In the end these projects will help the building’s developer to come up with a preservation friendly plan for the building that is compatible with the Portland community and mindset. As the blue team, quoting Judge Symonds at the dedication in 1889, stated at the start of their presentation, “What is the common possession of all must be preserved in the interest of all.“

Last Words

PLT Group

Hopefully this group of newly minted Preservation Leadership Training alumni will take the knowledge and experiences gained from this past week and use it in their various capacities in the historic preservation field. As Judy from New York stated:

I did not know how much I learned until after I came home from PLT. While describing the week to a friend, the amount of material and the practical experience we had with our group project suddenly dawned on me. The curriculum and project worked so well independently and together to make a great training experience”

Thanks for making this week a success! I know I took away a lot of information on preservation programs across the country all while enjoying the wide variety of food that Portland has to offer.

For more information on Preservation Leadership Training visit and
Quotations from the Baxter Buildings 1889 dedication ceremony are from the Special Collections at the Portland Public Library.

Photographs by Alison Hinchman, NTHP

Priya Chhaya

Center for Preservation Leadership

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.