The impact original window sash can have in an historic building in terms of enhancing and maintaining architectural integrity is enormous yet frequently undervalued.  In addition to the shape and size of the window openings themselves, the patterning of each sash (divisions created by muntins between individual panes of glass) plays a crucial role in further conveying a particular style. So crucial, in fact, that surviving windows can often point to the stylistic origins of a structure that has been otherwise stripped of its detailing in misguided “updates”.

The Queen Anne style has long been a favorite for those with an appreciation for historic houses; its quirky forms and frequently over-the-top approach to ornament are exactly what make the style so endearing. Given the style’s fondness for excess, it is somewhat surprising that many Queen Anne houses have rather innocuous windows — frequently one-over-one double-hung sash. Fortunately, however, many Queen Annes sporting these “plain Jane” windows usually had at least one or more “artistic” windows, frequently incorporating colored glass.

Appropriately known as “Queen Anne Sash”, the most common of these windows are easily recognized by their small blocks of colored glass (but frequently clear glass) surrounding a larger central pane of clear glass. Less common examples include more complex patterning — sometimes including angular or circular panes; all are captivating. These panes are framed by wood muntins and not lead came (though some sash designs did incorporate both).

The American Queen Anne style emerged in the 1870’s and rapidly gained popularity, flourishing in the 1880’s. By the turn of the century it had lost its appeal in urban areas, but remained popular in rural areas into the 1910’s. Picturesque windows with small, wood-muntined, panes were characteristic from the start, though not all houses built in the Queen Anne style have such windows. Throughout the 1880’s, lumber yards typically stocked a variety of Queen Anne window sash designs. As the contemporary Colonial Revival style became more popular in the 1890’s, the Queen Anne style became more subdued and less colorful. Loud windows of colored glass gave way to simpler and more refined window designs of clear glass, frequently both leaded and beveled.

Following are numerous examples of Queen Anne sash; let’s take a closer look at these undeniably fun windows from the past…

A sampling of some of the most popular sash styles. Design # 94 is seen in the following photo… Image source:

So simple, but memorable and really fun!

Some Queen Anne sash is more complex! Window # 74 appears to incorporate both wood muntins and lead came. Image source:

This is perhaps the most layered border I’ve ever seen in a Queen Anne window… four panes deep! Photo source: via

Transoms such as these, when paired with a large glass window below it, were frequently known as “cottage windows”. Image source:

Examples of “cottage front sash”. Image source:

A typical “cottage” window is seen at the center of this bay. Image source: via

Window # 139 includes a top sash comprised entirely of small panes. The windows on the right are described as “Queen Anne” but the creeping influence of the Colonial Revival movement is quite obvious. In later years the same windows will be described as “Colonial” in millwork catalogs. Image source:

A small-paned sash adds interetst to this stairwell. Note that the center pane appears to be clear. Image source:

Many square sashes such as these were on occasion turned at an angle… Image source:

This is window # 152 from the preceding catalog cut.

Yes, even doors were styled in the Queen Anne manner! An example of door # 254, appropriately named “Queen Anne”, follows. Image source:

And here it is, with a dusting of snow…

The view from the inside!

Even Gothic forms were not immune to the influence of the captivating Queen Anne aesthetic!

A small Queen Anne sash, salvaged from an abandoned house, awaits restoration with new colored glass and a future at the bunkhouse!

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