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Window conservation begins at Lyman Estate

March 8, 2011

LYM-2011 Palladian Removal 2011-03-03
Cutting through the paint seal to prepare the Palladian window for removal.

The conservation of the wooden windows at the Lyman Estate began last week, kicking off the slate of 2011 projects set to increase energy efficiency in the 1793 mansion. Most of the window sash date to approximately 1917, when the last major renovation of the mansion was commissioned by the Lyman family. This renovation transformed the exterior of the house from the Victorian look of the 1880s to its current Colonial Revival form.

Improved energy efficiency does not necessarily require replacement of historic windows. While the sash are not quite a century old, they easily have more than another hundred years of life in them. Simple maintenance involves replacing broken glass, some minor joint repairs, new glazing putty, and re-establishing the protective layer of paint.  These are basic tasks that most homeowners can undertake on their own with a little time and patience.

Lyman Estate
A view of the Lyman Estate with windows removed for restoration.

During this phase of conservation work, Historic New England is committed to sharing what we learn about caring for old windows. As our team removed the first twenty-eight sash, questions arose regarding the form and function of the previous generation of windows. As work continues and we discover explanations, we plan to share our knowledge and shed light on earlier building technology in the What's New section of our website.

This project is made possible in part through the Preservation Maintenance Fund. Please consider a gift to support this project or to help us preserve and maintain our thirty-six historic properties.

Although the Lyman Estate function rentals operation is on a brief hiatus during this project, we are currently booking events for April 2012 or later. The grounds and the historic Lyman Estate Greenhouse remain open throughout the year.

Watch a short video of our team removing the mansion's Palladian window overlooking the staircase.

Great story! Question about sash terminology

Posted by Phyllis I. Hamilton on March 22, 2011
Marvelous restoration story; what a singular mansion! One question: I was interested to see that the word 'sash' is used for both singular and plural forms. I am fascinated to learn more about the evolution of the word, and how it came to be used in both forms -- I would love to learn more! Many thanks -- Phyllis Hamilton

Sash Etymology

Posted by Colleen Chapin on March 26, 2011
It does seem that many use the plural "sashes" - and that is probably generally accepted as correct usage as well.

"window frame," 1681, sashes, from Fr. châssis "frame" of a window or door (see chassis). French word taken as a plural and -s trimmed off by 1704. (sash. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian.)

Colleen Chapin - Preservation Manager, Historic New England

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Window conservation begins at Lyman Estate