Over the course of our staff blog, I’ve written about some of the more frequently asked questions our visitors have regarding our historic houses (original floorboards and original paint colors). Today I’m going to continue looking at our FAQs and chat a bit about the windows at each house. The information presented below comes from the historic structures reports on each house and serve as a wonderful resource if you ever find yourself asking, “I wonder if that’s original?”
We’ll start our discussion with the oldest home we manage, Buckman Tavern, built in 1710. While most of the original windows were replaced sometime around 1870 to stay in line with the popular Victorian style of 2 panes over 2 panes, there is evidence that the westernmost window in the northeast chamber (present office space on the second floor) is a surviving 18th century window. It is described by Abbie Griffing as being “Mary’s clothes room” and being full to the brim of clothing, so it is possible the room was too full for workers in 1870 to get in and replace the window. All the other windows showing the popular 12 panes over 12 panes style were reproduced in the first major restoration of the building in 1917. The only other surviving 18th century window is the inner transom window above the front door and has a popular “bull’s eye” pattern set in it. Despite the panes being replaced over the years, the frames of the windows all date to the 18th century and were more than likely installed sometime before the Tavern’s final expansion in 1755.
Despite moving locations back and forth across Hancock Street, the window frames of the Hancock-Clarke House have not changed in size or their location on the building due to the fact that the openings are integral to the original window trim that is located in the interior of the building. However, the design of glass windows have been changed at least twice over the course of the building’s history. There is evidence that the original configuration of the windows was a nine over nine construction (9 panes over 9 panes) as evidenced by a painting of the home from the 1840s. However, that design was changed to the current design of the windows that features a twelve over sixteen (12 panes over 16 panes) in 1897.
One unique aspect of the windows at Hancock-Clarke House has that the other two houses do not have are interior shutters. The four main rooms (Keeping Room, Hancock-Adams Room, Dorothy Quincy Room and Rev. Clarke’s Study) all have interior shutters installed and have a unique story. For example, the shutters located in the Keeping Room and the Hancock-Adams Room are original to the construction of the home, however, were shifted around during the 1897 restoration of the home. Both rooms have a combination of 3-panel shutters and 2-panel shutters, but originally the 3-panel shutters would have been reserved for the Hancock-Adams room as it was the most elaborate room in the home. The shutters located in the Dorothy Quincy Room and Rev. Clarke’s Study were reproduced in 1897, so while they are “old”, they aren’t “old, old” like the shutters on the first floor.
Munroe Tavern has seen the most exterior work of the three houses done over it’s lifetime and as a result, not many original aspects of the windows remain in the current structure. All the windows and frames are reproductions of 18th century windows that were installed during a major restoration in 1939. After studying a pre-1859 photo we are able to determine that the windows originally were of a 6 pane by 9 pane style that are displayed in the Tavern today (seen in the pre-1859 image). The 1939 restoration also restored to original locations of the window frames to pre-1860 locations, the post-1860 locations of the window frames are shown in the below photo. So while Munroe’s windows and frames are not original, the story behind how they look today is intriguing.
Stay tuned for more information on our historic doors and if you have questions/ suggestions for another “Is it original?” blog feel free to comment below!
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.