Historic Interior Shutters

As part of my Historic New England homeowner membership I can ask two questions per year for evaluation. My first question was regarding appropriate interior shutters. In Marblehead’s Historic District we can only have single-pane windows; my house is cold and I hope adding interior shutters will keep us a bit warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer months. We had insulation blown in this summer but I think interior shutters will be a great benefit too. In my den which has decorative molding on all four walls; paneled shutters will add even more to the space. Below the note I received back from Historic New England. Plus, three resources to purchase custom shutters.

Historic New England: Contrary to their common name, 18th century interior shutters were not installed for defense against Indian attack, but for security, privacy and a measure of insulation. Exterior shutters, which in period nomenclature were called blinds, were not a feature on houses until the very end of the 18th century and did not become common until the early years of the 19th century.

There are several different types of interior shutter, including paneled shutters that slide into a recess adjacent to the window (these are the earliest type), paneled bifold shutters that are hinged on the window casing and fold into an embrasure (or recess) in the wall, and paneled bifold shutters that are hinged on the window casing fold out over the casing and onto the adjacent wall. The appropriate type of restoration shutters for the Mugford house would depend on the evidence in the framing and walls of the house. Evidence for the type of panel appropriate to the window shutters would be found on any surviving paneled doors or fireplace paneling in the room. Ms. Elliott’s blog illustrates fielded paneling on some interior doors in the house, so shutters with fielded panels would be appropriate for the windows.

Hardware for shutters often consisted of H-L hinges on the shutter panels and butt hinges on the window casing. At the Mugford house, some evidence of interior shutters may still be present on the window casings in the window openings of the major rooms. Careful use of a raking light (i.e., a strong light, in a carpenter’s clamp lamp or even a flashlight) with the light held at an angle from underneath can highlight shadows or marks of prior hardware installation.

Note: The old windows were removed when we bought the house.

For further reference, see Plate XL of the sixth edition of Asher Benjamin’s The American Builder’s Companion (Dover reprint) for a hinged shutter in an embrasure (first edition of TABC was 1806). An example of the hinged “outside” shutter is enclosed in a photo from the Benjamin Lincoln House. Also enclosed are relevant sections of Garvin’s Building History of Northern New England.

For more information on shutters, see “Window Dressing: Shutters and Blinds in Historic Houses,” Historic New England magazine, Winter/Spring, 2004.

Sources for reproduction interior shutters include:
Beech River Mill
J. P. Moriarty & Company
Maurer & Shepherd Joyners, Inc.

Related Posts:
Interior Photos of Independence Hall
Elegant Green Paneled Molding
House Colors: Gray, White, Green or Black

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What The Heck Are We Working On?

So how’s the old house coming? We have a bunch of small projects we’re working on; each one involves a ton of research, hours spent sourcing (home depot doesn’t carry antique hardware) and then we have to complete the project. I underestimate the time involved for every single one.

Case in point: exterior door. Our front door is not original and I want to replace it. But what would be appropriate? The photo I have of the house is from the last 125 years (?) and I doubt the door seen is original. What I’ve found in researching is 8 and 6-panel doors fit the period of my house. I prefer the 8-panel because its really unique and feels more Georgian. I’m having a heck of time finding one and I’m hearing from fellow renovators they’ve never even seen one at salvage. And if I were to buy a reproduction, who stateside makes them? Once I find the door I can then choose hardware, have the molding around the door fixed and add an exterior light. Below a few more projects we have in the works.

The renovation is kicking our butt lately and we’re having definite moments of wanting for it all to be done. It’s exhausting to work, write a blog, renovate and somehow fit a trip to the gym and a homemade dinner using my farm box veggies in a day. Most days the only thing on that lists that gets accomplished is work, not taking the time exercise is taking a toll on my anxiety levels and waistline. I don’t want to be a complainer because I know it’s all part of the process and I can’t expect to finish everything overnight. So I tell myself again, Patience Katy, little-by-little.

We ordered 3 sets of reproduction HL Hinges for our door from Seven Pines Forge in PA for the doors in the den.

We decided to add thumb latches to the doors in the den. We need to find three sets. The detail shot shows the nails were are looking for attach the HL hinges and latches spotted at Old House Parts in Maine.

I’ve decided to add interior shutters to the windows in the den. Through my Historic New England Homeowner membership I am getting some help researching a style that is appropriate. They’re also helping me with how to properly restore my fireboxes in this room too.

We gutted an old beadboard cabinet, fixed the walls and painted the molding green. Next we need to install shelves for a bookcase.

I’ve been fixing the little gaps between the molding and the wall using Lightweight Joint Compound. You think this would be quick but it takes hours. This wall needs a touch up with paint but the gaps have been filled.

I picked Clunch as my entire house molding color. I ordered a gallon along with a little more Verte De Terre to finish up the den.

Greg got started stripping the molding and the door in the entryway. The door and molding will be painted, Clunch. We’re not there yet but the walls in the entry with no molding will probably be wallpapered.

This is the BIG project we’re avoiding. The back extension needs to have it’s clapboards replaced and bunch of other things including rotten window sills and the bathroom tower out of view in this photo needs help too. Greg was going to try to attempt it himself but it just hasn’t happened. We’re going to get estimates this week so we can hopefully get it done before winter. And then we can paint!!

Related Posts:
Front Door Inspiration in Marblehead
Learning More About HL Hinges
Rot Clapboards and Corners

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