Unconventional Window Alterations – Part 2

It’s always exciting to discover a new type of architectural depravity (hat tip to Seth!) which I had not previously encountered.  Such discoveries typically involve the loss of architectural integrity which is not exciting, but I’m getting used to it… it’s now the new normal.

The first thing I noticed about this house was that it was blue (not flattering to many early 20th century houses).  The second thing I noticed was that it combined several stylistic influences.  The third thing I noticed about the house was that the windows looked odd (and not just the aluminum-wrapped “maintenance-free” casings, either).  At first blush, the windows appear to be the rather ordinary double-hung sash variety commonly found in houses styled in either the Prairie or Craftsman manner.  Such windows typically have a lower sash which is a single pane of glass and an upper sash which is divided vertically into 3 or more sections by wood muntins.

Closer scrutiny revealed that these are not original windows.  They are vinyl replacements with fake muntins.  I see that a lot.  More than I’d like, but that was not what surprised me.  What surprised me is that this time I saw something that I’d never seen before… it’s yet another example of good intentions gone bad.  I do not know with certainty what the original windows looked like, but I’m fairly sure that the lower sash was not vertically divided to match the top sash.  I might be wrong, but I’ve never seen this before on a Craftsman-era window.  This is just weird.  And does not look good.  It makes the windows look like they have security bars on them.  Mercifully, the screens over the lower sash help subdue the fact, but it is still visible.  The front door and sidelights, which appear to be original, do have vertical muntins from top to bottom – but they are also intersected horizontally; they do not read as bars.

Stylistically, the house is a conglomeration of three styles concurrently popular in the first quarter of the 20th century:  Prairie, Craftsman and Mission.  The overall form, including blocky porches, conveys the Prairie style.  The visor roofs suggest a Mission influence while the brackets supporting them are decidedly Craftsman in appearance.  All three styles frequently utilized stucco as an exterior cladding; none were traditionally rendered in blue.


Here is the house in all its eclectic glory.  The porch to the left, originally open, appears to have been enclosed with glass block in the mid-20th century.


The front porch, projecting beyond the columns, conveys a Wrightian Prairie influence.


The vinyl replacement windows up close.  If the bottom sashes had not received fake muntins they would not look so odd.



These windows, from the Whitmer-Jackson Company’s 1923 catalog, show fashionable period window configurations.  Image courtesy of the Internet Archive.



6 Responses to Unconventional Window Alterations – Part 2

  1. are those Wrightian boxes on the corners of the porches supposed to be planters? I hope so as otherwise they are hopelessly out of scale. and in the first pic, since we can’t see the back half of the house, the porches look huge in comparison to the main block of the house. while you’re spot on about the windows, I think this house had so many mixed metaphors as built that add on would have to work hard to outdo the original.

    • Good question… I hadn’t even considered the possibility that these might be planters. Since the house is a private home, I didn’t get close enough to see inside the porch. I’m assuming that the projecting part of the porch is just that – part of the porch – and that the blocky corners are piers with a solid cap. Either way, FLW’s influence is evident. There are scale issues here, but basically it is a nice – and fun – composition. Especially the way that chimney touches the roof… I love quirky!

  2. That is a unique blend of Prairie and Mission. It’s a bit odd, but generally flows well together.

    Am I being irrationally optimistic in thinking the vertical features on the lower sashes are the fabric bands of heavy wood Venetian blinds?

    It’s interesting that the upper sashes are shorter than the lowers. If these are replacement windows, that’s a detail often overlooked. I’ve seen too many Oriel style double-hung windows simply tossed and replaced with one giant fixed picture window.

    • I noticed the window proportions also… I’m guessing that the originals had this same composition and that it was replicated in vinyl. It’s simply too period to have been a coincidence.

      And, yes… you are being irrationally optimistic in thinking the vertical features on the lower sashes are the fabric bands of heavy wood Venetian blinds (a look at the triple window on the main level will confirm this; dark venetian blinds are in this window as well). But I appreciate your glass-is-half-full perspective!

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