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Panel addresses window sash

By Staff | May 12, 2011

Monday the Shepherdstown Historic Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to recommend to the town’s planning commission to not approve the third application submitted by a town resident in five years to replace what he said are “severely” deteriorating window sashes on his home on West New Street.

According to William Struna’s attorney Susan Thompson, Struna originally filed for a building permit in 2006. She said the planning commission was not satisfied with the windows he selected to replace the ones on his home built in the early 1800s, which was constructed by Solomon Entler.

When he refiled for a permit in 2009, Thompson said Struna upgraded his selection to a wooden window. But Thomson said the planning commission had concerns. She said it was suggested to hire a master craftsman to provide more information on the state of the windows as well as have an expert address the home’s value.

“We complied with those things,” Thompson said. “We tried to answer their questions – as many as we could.”

At Monday’s meeting, in which Struna’s application took over two hours to hear alone, Thompson brought in Randy Stockman, owner of Stockman Woodworks, LLC, who has 44 years of woodworking and window restoration experience. Stockman spoke of the state of the windows of the home and said the nine-over-six model windows are not original to the structure. He said the nine-over-six windows appeared to be retrofitted to spaces where six-over-six windows were originally because of the presence of stop strips behind the windows to hold them in place.

Stockman also said that most of the windows are “very rotten.”

“I can put my finger through a lot of the areas in the wood,” he said. “They’re deteriorated really bad.”

Stockman also told commissioners replacement window sashes will not only fix the deterioration problem but will allow for a thicker window to be installed to include thermopane glass for energy efficiency.

But the town brought in David Gibney from Historic Restoration Specialists Inc., who visited the New Street residence on March 3, who refuted Stockman’s findings.

Gibney, who has worked in preservation for 35 years and has specialized in windows for the last 25 years, filed a report on Struna’s house stating that all windows “are structurally in good condition and do not need to be replaced.”

Gibney showed the commission different ways the windows can be rebuilt.

“When it has its whole frame around and it has all of the muntins there, it’s a good window,” he said.

Gibney said he went around and “poked” at the windows and could visually tell from the windows that they were in good condition.

Thompson said the expert Struna hired and Gibney looked at the windows differently. She said she was “kind of blindsided” when the town brought in their expert who based his findings on mostly visual evidence.

“When our expert came in they were immediately ready to rebut it,” she said.

But cost is another factor for Struna.

According to Struna’s application, an estimate of replacement sashes is $36,000. Also included in the application is 2007 quote from Classic Craftsman Design for rebuilding and installing sashes at a total of over $94,500. Thompson said the addition of storm windows would make that estimate over $100,000. Gibney said his company estimated the work would cost them $1,100 per window, including rebuilding and weatherization which would total just over $35,000.

In an email Wednesday, HLC Chair Hank Willard said commissioners voted to recommend not approving Struna’s application because of the proposed window. He wants to replace his wooden windows with a model that is wooden on the inside and aluminum-clad on the outside.

“What was apparent to us from the sample was the type, material and construction of the window – which we found to be unacceptable for that structure,” Willard said.

The HLC’s window replacement guidelines state “the replacement window should match the window being replaced in both material and design.”

But Willard hopes the commission and Struna can meet in the middle because “the applicant clearly has to do something about his windows.”

Willard suggested the nine-over-six models be replaced with six-over-six windows, which are original to the home, and have a new sash made for the other existing windows.

“It was very clear to me from my inspection of the property emphatically confirmed by (Gibney) – that these windows are easily repairable which would be the best solution for all concerned,” Willard said.

Until the planning commission meeting Monday, May 16, Thompson said she will address the concerns she heard from the HLC Monday.