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March 29, 2020

Windows on the Past…


Native Sun Construction’s Kris Bloomer was glimpsed earlier this month intent in his work renovating window openings upstairs at Hinsdale County Courthouse. Native Sun is contractor with Hinsdale County renovating a total of 19 ground floor and upper story windows in the historic building, each of the windows consisting of two six-over-six-pane wood sash which were originally installed in the county building 140 years ago this summer.
Renovation of the window sash, according to Henry Woods, consists of incrementally removing each of the windows, after which the historic glass is temporarily removed while the wood sash is clamped, glued and sanded, after which the old glass is reinstalled and fixed into place with new glazing compound which, with the wood frames, is then primed and painted on both the exterior and interior. In instances where the historic glass was already broken, Woods and crew, aided by architect Ben White, have made efforts to find vintage glass replacements rather than using modern window glass.
Upper window sash in each of the windows is fixed into place, while lower sash are operable thanks to a unique spring roller system dating to 1877 which holds the window in place once it is raised. Woods has worked on building restoration projects throughout Colorado and says the courthouse window springs and wood rollers are unique, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Recalling the fact the opening ball for the newly completed courthouse was held in June, 1877, before the windows had arrived, Woods opines that wood window sash used in the building were not locally crafted and were imported for installation in the building. It was a fragile proposition, he adds, hauling in the glass and wood window sash over rough wagon roads from either Saguache or Del Norte.
In renovating the windows, Woods tells WORLD that a number of the windows had been painted shut in the intervening 140 years, in several instances leaving a 1”-gap for perpetual air flow.
Native Sun’s renovation work on historic windows in the courthouse is one of the final elements in a multi-year restoration of Hinsdale County Courthouse funded by the county, donors, State Historic Fund and Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs, and overseen by Commissioner Stan Whinnery. A gala event marking completion of the courthouse project, including public tours showcasing the completed project, speeches, refreshments and a ribbon cutting, is planned on Friday, September 15. The September 15 date was selected coinciding with suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s visit to Lake City — and courthouse speech urging voters to approve the radical concept of extending the vote to women — on September 15, 1877.

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