Maurice Duke

A few years ago, after I'd been doing whole-house restorations for more than two decades, I started getting calls from clients who just wanted old windows repaired. At first I took on these jobs to fill in periods of downtime between the larger projects. But after I'd done a couple of them, the trickle of calls became a torrent. Some callers were simply hoping to qualify for generous new federal and state rehabilitation tax credits. Most, however, had learned to appreciate the precise joinery, wavy glass, and unique divided-light patterns that made their original windows so valuable. Now all I do is windows.

Long-neglected windows may be inoperable and unsightly, but the damage is almost always superficial — peeling paint, cracked putty, broken glass, frayed cords, frozen pulleys — and relatively easy to fix. Most old windows in my area were crafted from long-leaf heart pine, which is a remarkably stable and rot-resistant material. Although it's not...

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