Historic Windows: Some Primitive Treatments

Here are examples of two types of primitive window treatment we’ve chosen for several of our historic 12/12 windows in the Mansfield House (well, for the three clean ones, anyway).

For the two front windows of the Hall, we’re using 18th century-style, single-drawback festoons. These are made of heavy linen (for blocking any drafts in the winter), and this particular left/right pair consists of black- and linen-colored fabric, woven in an Angstadt #9 pattern:

Linen Single Drawback Festoons

We’ve hung ours on primitive iron rods (some purests might insist on strings, but we’re not nearly that fussy). The drawstring is simply secured unto itself using a single slip-knot, in such a manner that a slight tug on the tail end is all that’s needed to release a drawn festoon.

Note that the slip-knot is very small in diameter, positioned quite high (just under the rod and behind the panel), with just a single, straight tail, and no loops, hanging below. This is done to keep the treatment child safe.

Another View Of Primitive Linen Single Drawback Festoons

Here’s one more view of the front Hall windows. Note that there are a number of textiles in this room of several different patterns — perhaps in some future blog post, we’ll discuss some of the more popular ones and their origins:

Yet Another View Of The Front Hall Window Treatments

Finally, the end window has a tobacco cloth panel for now, simply because we didn’t have a third linen festoon of the correct color/weave, and orientation. This panel can be drawn at either lower corner, using a simple tab loop sewn into each corner. To ensure child safety, the corner tab should be looped on something that easily gives way when lightly tugged:

Tobacco Cloth Panel

In the springtime, we’ll replace the heavier linen treatments with several different styles of lighter, airier panels, similar to the tobacco cloth one shown above. We’ll also install insulated roller shades on the south- and west-facing windows, to block strong sunlight and reduce solar heat gain, during the later parts of the day.

About John Poole

My interests include historic homes, architectural preservation and restoration, improving the energy performance of old houses, and traditional timber frames.
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3 Responses to Historic Windows: Some Primitive Treatments

  1. Colleen says:

    First – never had the chance to say congrats on the new addition to your house collection :) And secondly windows are awesome – are you going into interior design in your second career? :)

    • John Poole says:

      Hi Col,

      Thanks! When you come visit (this spring, maybe?), you’ll have several interesting houses to tour. Also, please tell Kathy that I’ll now be needing a Mansfield House Christmas ball!

      Regarding my second career, if you’re into Nouveau New England Settlement, or Colonialpunk, then I’m your man. Otherwise, Nate Berkus has nothing to worry about, believe me. His job is safe!

      ~ John

  2. John Poole says:

    “We’d” be the laundry room ghost and the skunk that waddled around the foundation corner the other morning….they’re my official advisors these days :-)

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