Restoring old windows used to be a basic home maintenance task.
"Replacement has become the easy, first option, when really, it's not the most cost-effective upgrade ... and certainly not the best thing you can do for an old house and its character," said Natalie Heneghan, education coordinator for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.
The statewide nonprofit teamed up with Duluth's Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps to host two upcoming workshops. Repairing and Restoring Old Windows is slated for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 4 at 1804 E. 1st St.; an Introduction to Historic Masonry is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 1 in Harrison Park. Each session is $40.
There's an audience in Duluth for this, and many people with older homes want to learn how to fix them up, Heneghan said.
On deck for the first session: wood window pros and cons; simple DIY fixes with reasonably priced materials; and tips for re-glazing or repainting. Joe Hayes, of Hayes Window Restoration in the Twin Cities, is instructing. He's a proponent of restoring and repairing old windows vs. replacing them for energy-efficiency, aesthetics or cost.
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) aims to educate and connect people with historic places - and to combat the notion that old houses are drafty or not efficient, Heneghan said. "In fact, they are built to be both.
"They're made to be solid, green structures, as long as we take care of them."
Weather stripping and broken sash cords are common issues in old wood windows. Both are relatively easy to fix and don't take much technical knowledge, but there's a fear around taking windows out, she said.
To address that in the May 4 session, there will be walk-throughs on window extraction, how to apply weather stripping, and a guide to applicable tools and safety equipment.
PAM held a window restoration workshop at Glensheen Mansion last year, and they've hosted a session on sustainability with the Duluth Preservation Alliance, Heneghan said.
They provide homeowners tools and experience to take care of the houses they love.
Teaming up with the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps was a natural fit, said Rhea Harvey, operations director. The Duluth-based AmeriCorps organization's mission is aimed at teaching young adults trade skills, Harvey said.
For the June 1 session, there will be stations set up throughout Harrison Park, where attendees can learn hands-on masonry techniques from Mike Braun of Ely's Mike Braun Construction.
"We like to create classes that are an experience. You're learning, not only from an expert, but everyone in the room," Heneghan said.
There are so many rock walls in Duluth with a lot of mortar falling out. People look at these rock walls, and they think they're so far gone, but replacing the mortar is not as intensive or problematic as they may think, Harvey said.
The Introduction to Historic Masonry workshop will cover DIY fixes, how to assess repair materials, and a guide to talking to contractors about executing repairs in a historically accurate way.
Past PAM classes have covered rotted wood repair, plastering, lead abatement in Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester. There will be a third workshop this fall in Duluth, another partnership with Northern Bedrock, on winterizing your old home, Heneghan said.
Added Harvey: It's about "giving restoration a chance as opposed to building new."
If you go
What: Repairing & Restoring Old Windows
When: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 4
Where: 1804 E. 1st St.
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What: Introduction to Historic Masonry workshop
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 1
Where: Harrison Park, 3002 W 3rd St.