My wife and I own a 1911 "transitional" farmhouse here in Wisconsin (not the Victorian pictured above) that is a pleasing mix of Victorian and Arts & Crafts architecture.  The property is fairly pristine due to the fact that it sat empty through the 1950s and 1960s -- so it never suffered any re-muddling.  In fact it didn't have electricity until 1971 and indoor plumbing made its debut in the home in 1994!  One casualty of sitting empty for 20 years was that many of the original one-over-one pine window sashes rotted away prompting my father to replace the originals in these windows with "new" pine sashes that were available at lumber yards in the early 1970s.  The replacement sashes never fit the openings perfectly, are loose, and now -- 40+ years later -- need attention/replacement. 

Herein lies the problem:  My wife and I are will soon be embarking on a very sympathetic renovation of the home in preparation of our retirement there, and we want to do right by the house, but we can't be putting period wood windows back into the openings as we have no desire to be climbing ladders in our 70s & 80s to wash/maintain such windows -- not to mention changing storms and screens on the second story! 

We need the versatility of modern replacement windows, and we have looked at several lines of high-quality, restoration, replacement windows, but are not satisfied with the "mirror" look of the gas-filled panes, the reduction in the size of the replacement glass panes from the size of our original window panes, or the fact that the screens are in place 365 days a year. 

Is there any alternative out there that will fit our needs?  We would be willing to use wood replacement windows as long as they pivot in for cleaning, are clad with a low-maintenance material outside, and are, or could be, paired with a quality wood-framed, triple-track storm/screen window . . .

About 25 years ago, a salesman that called on my father's hardware store showed me a system of tracks that one could use that allowed the original window sashes to be reused after some minor adjustments were made to them.  In fact I believe the system was showcased on an episode of "This Old House" a few years later.  Does anyone know if this system/technology still exists?

Any guidance in this matter will be greatly appreciate . . .

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I think I recall reading about something like that on John Leeke's site, historic homeworks.  Send him a message, he's very responsive.


Hi, I can also help guide you through your journey. You can contact me via my website I do travel if requested.

Randall Marder

Thank you Randall, I just sent you and email via your website contact information.  Bill

Our 1864 house has had 'high quality' replacement windows done to one wing in the 1970's - those are now totally shot, hardware and all... The double-pane has clouded on the inside of all of them, and all require a total re-do.

On the other hand, the original ~150 year old windows were fairly easy to have re-done by the local Amish woodworkers, and all the sash weights are back working.  Adding storm windows made them nearly as efficient as today's argon-filled high tech windows.

The original windows had metal seals added some time in the past, and those I'd highly recommend. This consists of a slot carved in the sides of the sashes, and a metal rail attached in the old sash channel.  Interlocking seals between sashes (top & bottom) complete the seal.

I would recommend finding a local who's willing to service your existing windows - including seasonal maintenance.  You will be happier, for longer, I guarantee it.


Thank you Bruce.  Your point is well taken as I have no desire to have disposable windows.  My primary residence fell victim to modern replacement windows before I bought the property in 1996.  Now, not even 20 years later, all five windows have broken seals and broken channel hardware . . .

Get the look and get the best quality you can afford. We have replaced cheap old windows (I say this as they were in an addition early in the house's life but were falling apart, whereas the original windows are in great shape) with Marvin Integrity, which are fiberglass on the outside and wood on the inside. We got them unpainted, but you can get them painted as well. We painted them to match our interior trim.


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