OPINION

News and notes from the GCC

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Abby Huff, Story City GCC Executive Director

Last week I was in Mason City for the annual Iowa Economic Development Downtown Summit. I love getting a chance to network with other Main Street organizations and learn about what fun things they have going on in their communities. It also gives me a chance to sit in on sessions and learn from other professionals.

One of those sessions I sat in on was on downtown architecture; a topic that I love and like to experience and learn more about. The presenter, a professor from Wartburg College, showcased a number of downtown buildings from the Waverly/Cedar Falls/Waterloo area and I noticed that one of the common elements in these downtown buildings, besides the beautiful architecture, were the windows, and not in a good way. An alarming number of windows in these downtown buildings had, at one point or another, been replaced with either windows that don’t fit the original opening or are not period appropriate.

Preservation of original windows is a necessity for a historic building because windows and doors are considered defining features. During the energy crisis of the late ’70s and ’80s it was believed that large, older windows were the main contributing factor to loss of energy in a building. As a result, a lot of building owners and homeowners replaced those windows with new and, what they considered, more efficient smaller windows. The reality was, that when you replace a window with one that is not original and does not fit the original structure you are, in fact, losing more energy after the “fix” then you were before.

One of my favorite materials to read is Preservation Brief 9, “The repair of Historic Wooden Windows”, available on the National Park Service website at https://www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/9-wooden-windows.htm. This Brief discusses ways to preserve and weatherize your windows, how to repair window elements, and finally, if the window is too far gone, the appropriate ways to replace as a last resort. My last word on this is that windows matter, and if anyone wants to know more on this please feel free to email me at director@storycitygcc.com.