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Seven rules for success when reconditioning wood windows

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending one day of the two-day wood windows workshop put on by Young Ohio Preservationists. Led by restoration artisans Jim Turner and Patrick Kennedy, attendees had the opportunity to learn (or hone) their skills, whether removing sash (without damaging the surrounding wood components), stripping out old glazing, removing paint, reglazing the sash, or repairing damaged sash ropes. Both Jim and Patrick are experts who have forgotten more about restoring old windows than most of us will ever learn, and both shared a lot of great advice over the course of the day. Here are some tips you can use when tackling your own wood window restoration project.

1) Parts for repairs. Where do you get window parts for storms? Try Blaine Window Hardware. The instructors have sourced many a hard-to-find item from them.

2) Aluminum storm makeover. Tired of the look of your old aluminum storms? Before you consider tossing them, consider paint. Paint specifically formulated to coat aluminum has come a long way, and more colors than ever are available. Now, instead of dull, silvery outlines for your windows, you can consider a color that actually complements your home’s existing paint scheme.

Jim Turner, center, of Turner Restoration, pumps up workshop attendees Saturday morning with equal parts knowledge and inspiration.

Jim Turner, center, of Turner Restoration, pumps up workshop attendees Saturday morning with equal parts knowledge and inspiration.

3) Steam stripping. Consider a garment steamer (yes, a garment steamer) for stripping your sash. If you’ve ever stripped paint, you know it can be a messy job. As if the mess is bad enough, you also have to guard against removing paint that’s potentially lead-based. Sanding and scraping can release dangerous particulates, but steam stripping keeps airborne paint dust to an absolute minimum. From past experience, I’d recommend against using the Wagner Power Steamer. The Wagner model tends to spit out a lot of hot water, in addition to the steam. Instead, try a product like the Rowenta Commercial Garment Steamer (available from here). Jim Turner brought his garment steamer, and it was all steam, no hot water, which made for a lot less mess. If you have a house full of windows or woodwork to strip, it’s worth the $100 investment to do it safely.

4) A better way to fish sash cord. Fishing sash cord, when you’re ready to reinstall your sash, can be a frustrating experience, as you try to loop the cord over the pulley, through the weight pocket, and down to the weight pocket door. The sash cord is so light that it bends and gets caught up on obstructions in the weight pocket, never making it to the bottom where you can tie on the sash weight. Instead, start with a length of metal chain taped to the sash cord. The metal will provide the needed weight to allow the cord to drop right to the bottom of the weight pocket.

5) Securing the sash cord to the sash. To secure the knotted end of the sash cord in the sash, insert a screw through the knot into the wood, instead of hammering a nail through it. A screw is much easier to remove in the event you need to remove the sash out of the window frame.

6) Refreshing your wood sash. You can refresh old, dry wood, prior to painting, with a recipe of 1/2 gallon turpentine, 1/2 gallon boiled linseed oil, and 1 ounce of paraffin. The linseed oil will rejuvenate the wood fibers, and the paraffin will act as a decent water barrier. The turpentine is the vehicle to deliver the linseed oil and paraffin into the wood, so it can soak in.

7) Saving your parting stop. The parting bead, or parting stop, is the bane of window restorers everywhere, because it’s so easy to snap them while you’re working to remove the sash. Instead of using vise grips or pliers to try to pull out the parting stop, try vise grips with long jaws. The increased surface area means there’s less chance of marring the parting stop, while spreading out the pressure point, meaning less chance of snapping the stop as you try to wiggle it loose. (Give me a pair of these, and I feel like I could conquer the window restoration world!)

While there’s a lot of practice, knowledge, and equipment, that goes into proper window restoration, having some tricks of the trade up your sleeve can make the process easier, and, actually, fun. And rewarding.

Do you have a great window restoration story to tell? Would you like to see another hands-on workshop? Let us know. Thanks for reading!

Tuning up your vision statement

We’re winding up our evaluation season. Each year, we evaluate every Main Street program in Ohio using 10 different criteria. One of the items we review during each evaluation is the MS program’s mission and vision statement, reviewing its relevance, and sometimes making suggestions to tweak, or overhaul, if needed. Programs run the gamut of vision statements, but sometimes we run into confusion, because the local program isn’t exactly sure what makes a good vision statement.

Simply put, the vision and mission statements should pair nicely: the mission statement says what you want to accomplish, and the vision statement describes your district when you’ve accomplished that mission. Thankfully, we have a one-pager from Marc Smiley that provides some basics on what a good vision statement should look like. You can check it out here.

Here’s an example of a vision statement from Heritage Centre Association, the Main Street program in Mount Vernon: The Heritage Centre Association’s vision for Mount Vernon is a downtown brimming with activity in a beautiful setting with green spaces and well-preserved, lovingly restored, fully utilized historic buildings. It includes a thriving retail and restaurant district, ample parking and easy access to trails, waterways, and parks–a place where people of all ages come to shop, dine, work, and live. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy educational, arts, and cultural experiences and participate in a variety of community events. This vision includes thoughtful and generous involvement by community and business leaders and the support of a downtown organization with adequate, consistent funding and purposeful direction.

A good vision statement will literally paint the picture (with text) of what your revitalized district will look like when you've accomplished your mission.

A good vision statement will literally paint the picture (with text) of what your revitalized district will look like when you’ve accomplished your mission.

Sometimes, the vision of what makes for a “revitalized” downtown can differ drastically from person to person, and organization to organization. In the example above, HCA has succinctly spelled out their vision for a revitalized downtown, and what it includes.

If you’re a fan of Marc Smiley as much as we are then you’ll be pleased to know we’re bringing Marc back to Ohio (specifically to Columbus) on May 19. Be sure to put the date on your calendar, and stay tuned to for updates and registration information.

Update: registration for Marc Smiley’s workshop in Columbus has opened. You can register here.

Cleveland International Film Festival Discount


As a community partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival, Heritage Ohio has been given a discount code to share with their members and fellow organizations. Use the code “HEROH” when purchasing tickets to receive $2 of any film screening.

Join us on March 21 at the screening of 45365 a film about Sidney, Ohio. Information about this film can be found at p

For information on tickets and pricing visit p

Cambridge Seeking Project Coordinator

Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge, Ohio is seeking a Project Coordinator to guide and promote Dickens Victorian Village as it continues to grow and prosper.  Applicants should have education and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: public relations, marketing, or public administration.  Good written and verbal communications skills are essential, as are time management skills and the ability to work independently.  Salary based on qualifications and experience.

Send resumes to Dickens Victorian Village, P.O. Box 92, Cambridge, OH 43725.

To learn more about Dickens Victorian Village go to



Downtown Wellington Seeks Executive Director

Downtown Wellington, Inc.

Executive Director

Job Description

Downtown Wellington, Inc. seeks an organized, dynamic, energetic visionary to lead our Downtown community as Executive Director. This candidate must be a self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit and must be capable of functioning effectively in an independent environment.

The Executive Director is responsible for assisting in revitalizing Wellington’s central business district while preserving its historic character by implementing the National Main Street’s four point approach: Organization, Design, Promotions and Economic Restructuring, as its fundamental organizational framework. The Executive Director is the principal on-site staff person responsible for coordinating all program activities locally and representing the downtown and organization regionally, as appropriate. This position reports to the Downtown Wellington, Inc. Board of Directors.

Provide a letter of interest and resume to no later than Friday, March 20. Must include professional references. Electronic resumes are preferred; however, you may also mail your resume to Downtown Wellington, Inc., P. O. Box 1, Wellington, OH 44090.

The Executive Director will:

  • Be knowledgeable about the four-point Downtown approach to economic revitalization and serve as the visible contact person for Wellington’s Downtown Program.
  • In conjunction with Downtown Wellington, Inc.’s Board of Directors, develop an annual Work Plan that includes strategies for downtown economic development through historic preservation and a calendar of events.
  • Implement the goals of Work Plan by working directly with the community, spending a minimum of 5 hours per week “on the street”, getting to know the business owners and workers in the downtown, hearing their concerns and directing them to appropriate and available resources.
  • Be familiar with individuals or groups directly or indirectly involved in the revitalization of Wellington; be in communication with them and be open to opportunities for collaboration.
  • Direct efforts at business retention, expansion, and recruitment, including providing information, expertise, and appropriate referrals to business owners; marketing the Downtown Wellington, Inc. program to outside businesses, working with developers and business owners to enhance the quality of retail and commercial businesses and the quality of their retail/commercial space.
  • Assist individual property owners with improvement projects when possible. Examples may include personal consultation or by obtaining and supervising professional design consultants; assist in locating appropriate contractors and materials.
  • When possible, participate in construction oversight; provide advice and guidance on necessary financial mechanisms for physical improvements.
  • Develop and maintain data systems to track the process and progress of Downtown Wellington, Inc. These systems should include economic monitoring, individual building files, thorough photographic documentation of all physical changes and information on job creation and business retention.
  • Maintain a membership database and implement renewal invoicing. Maintain regular contact with existing members of Downtown Wellington, Inc. to foster support and appreciation; look to grow membership.
  • Develop funding sources for expansion and development of Downtown Wellington, Inc. both individually and in collaboration with other organizations and entities.
  • Through speaking engagements, media interviews, and presence at all program events, keep Downtown Wellington, Inc. highly visible in the community.
  • Manage recruitment, evaluation, and retention of volunteers, including members of the committees.
  • Organize and facilitate Downtown Wellington, Inc. Board of Directors and Committee meetings.
  • Work with the Finance Committee to facilitate the maintenance of finances for Downtown Wellington, Inc. and report to the Board of Directors.
  • Produce press releases, social media content, and other print or electronic materials to support and promote programs and events.
  • Assist with writing, editing, and publishing informational and marketing brochures and flyers.
  • Ensure that all print and electronic materials adhere to the standards of the Downtown Wellington, Inc. program.
  • Assist with the preparation of necessary reports, summaries, and research projects, as assigned by the Downtown Board of Directors.
  • Maintain and update the Downtown Wellington, Inc. website.
  • Attend all Village Council meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings, and other local meetings as appropriate to represent Downtown Wellington, Inc.; promote programs and activities; and look for opportunities for collaboration.
  • Help build strong and productive working relationships with appropriate public agencies at the county and state levels.

Resource Management Responsibilities

The Executive Director supervises any necessary temporary or permanent employees, as well as professional managers. This position participates in personnel and project evaluations. The Executive Director maintains Downtown Wellington, Inc. records and reports, establishes technical resource files and libraries and prepares reports for the state Downtown program as needed. This position monitors the annual project budget and maintains financial records in cooperation with the organization’s Treasurer and any contracted bookkeeper.


The Executive Director should have education or experience in one or more of the following areas: marketing, economics, finance, public relations, design, journalism, planning, business administration, public administration, retailing, volunteer or nonprofit administration, or small business development. Successful candidates must be sensitive to design and preservation issues and must understand the issues confronting downtown business people, property owners, public agencies and community organizations.

The Executive Director is expected to be outgoing, energetic, imaginative, well-organized and capable of functioning independently. Must have excellent people skills.

Must have excellent written and verbal skills; public speaking experience is a plus.

Must have general computer skills and be proficient in word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database management, and basic desktop publishing software.

Must have basic social media skills (Facebook, Twitter). Website management skills preferred.


Located at the intersection of State Routes 58 and 18 in southern Lorain County, Wellington, Ohio is approximately 42 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. Incorporated in 1855, the village currently has a population of approximately 4,800. Wellington is home to the Lorain County Fair and the Spirit of ’76 Museum, dedicated to painter Archibald M. Willard, who is buried in the town’s Greenwood Cemetery, and the history of Wellington. In 2010, Wellington was named the “Best Old House Neighborhood” for the state of Ohio by This Old House magazine.


Reasons to protest a National Register listing?

A Xenia newspaper recently reported on local efforts to list Xenia’s Carnegie Library in the National Register of Historic Places, an effort that has met with resistance from the owners of the building, the Greene County Commissioners. You can read the article here.

As you may know, National Register listing typically conveys a couple benefits on the owner of the listed building: a measure of pride and satisfaction at receiving recognition of the building’s historic status (typically for owners of residential properties), or access to redevelopment incentives (for owners of commercial rental property). National Register listing can also assist in efforts to preserve a historic building against unwanted federal intrusions, or when federal money is used (commonly referred to as the Section 106 process).

When it comes to National Register listing, there are only benefits, not restrictions. In fact, an owner can have his or her building listed one day, and tear it down the next day. We still occasionally hear the myth that National Register listing entails restrictions, when someone is protesting National Register listing (we got a little into NR myths and misinformation after Barb Powers excellent conference session here). And when it comes to redevelopment of historic buildings, we recommend National Register listing, even if the owner has no intention of investing in the building’s rehabilitation. A developer looking to rehabilitate a historic building has cleared an important hurdle when purchasing a building already listed in the National Register.

Xenia's Carnegie Library

Xenia’s Carnegie Library

In a letter to the State Historic Preservation Office, the county administrator stated that the county commissioners didn’t see a benefit to listing, nor was he sure about the compatibility of an elevator within a historic space (his written comments, according to the article: All the history, does an elevator marry well with the history.)

The administrator goes on to state that while he understands there’s no barrier to demolition, once a building is listed, he doesn’t want the barrier (?) of National Register listing in place should the commissioners decide ultimately to demolish.

While the county commissioners, and administrator, don’t see the benefit of listing, I’d encourage them not to stand in the way of listing, especially when it’s been completed at no (or very minimal) cost to the county by volunteers. It can only improve the marketability of the building, when the commissioners do decide to sell.

Downtown Wilmington Seeks Executive Director

Downtown Wilmington, a 501c-3 organization, is accepting applications for the position of Executive Director.

Downtown Wilmington is seeking an experienced, self-motivated person to lead and maintain a strong and aggressive downtown revitalization program. The Executive Director will coordinate, facilitate, promote, and advance the revitalization of a vibrant, economically viable downtown district.   The Director will serve as a visionary, listener, and collaborator with various civic and professional constituents in the community, particularly downtown business owners.

We seek a Director that will adapt to the ever‐changing needs of Wilmington’s downtown district, implementing historic preservation ethics, encouraging cooperative efforts between individuals and groups to accomplish project goals. The Executive Director is responsible for being “the face” of Downtown Wilmington.

Applicants should have a college degree and/or equivalent experience in one or more of the following areas: historic preservation, planning, economic development, marketing, design, volunteer management, or business administration. The Director must be entrepreneurial, energetic, and well organized. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential. This is a full-time, high-profile position within the community and requires creative and technological skills, professionalism, and confidentiality.

Submit resume, cover letter, and three references by February 22, 2015 to Downtown Wilmington, c/o Search Committee, 44 W Main Street, Wilmington, OH  45177.  Or submit electronically to   Downtown Wilmington is an equal opportunity employer.

Detroit Shoreway Seeking Economic Development Director

DETROIT SHOREWAY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION is hiring for the position of Economic Development Director.


REPORTS TO:   Managing Director, Detroit Shoreway neighborhood office


The Economic Development Director will be responsible for the overall economic development, coordination and implementation of commercial/retail district revitalization for Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). These responsibilities include recruiting and providing technical assistance to businesses, coordinating public improvements and governmental approvals in the commercial district, managing the Gordon Square Special Improvement District (GSAD-CIC) and support for marketing and special events. Bachelor’s degree is required.

COMPENSATION - Annual salary $40,000 to $50,000 commensurate with experience.

Jeffrey M. Ramsey
Executive Director
Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
SCFBC Office
3167 Fulton Road, Suite 303
Cleveland, OH  44109
Phone:  (216) 961-9073 ext. 210
FAX:  (216) 961-9387

Call for Conference Session Proposals

Heritage Ohio is currently planning for our Annual Conference to be held in Columbus October 5-7, 2015. If you have a session that might be interesting to our audience of revitalization & preservation advocates and professionals link HERE for our proposal guidelines, proposals will be accepted through February 28.

Conference crowd

3 signs your contractor is doing more harm than good to your masonry building

We learn early on in the preservation field about the dangers of abrasive “cleaning” on old masonry. Heck, it’s even immortalized in the Secretary’s standards, saying, “Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the GENTLEST means possible (my emphasis). Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.” (What’s that? You’d like a refresher on the other 9 standards? OK, you can check ‘em out here.)

I like to refer to this as the sandblasting standard; in other words, don’t do it! When it comes to masonry, don’t blast it. Don’t blast with sand, water, walnut shells, ice pellets,  or anything else that comes out of a heavy rubber hose at high pressure. Just don’t.

Sometimes I forget that not everyone who owns an old, historic masonry building has learned this important lesson, so I’m asking you today, dear reader, to help us get the message out. Let design review boards, preservation groups, owners of brick buildings, and anyone else who could benefit from the knowledge, know that blasting historic masonry is just plain bad.

Meanwhile, I’ll share with you my unfortunate experience I had the other day, and some signs that the masonry contractor is doing more harm than good to your building.

1. Fast paint removal

I’ve always thought of any construction project as having three pillars of output: time, price, and quality. Of course, every owner wishes to have the project done quickly, cheaply, and of high quality. But in this case, two out of three is perfection. You can’t have all three, so you have to decide which two you’re going to focus on (might I suggest high quality as one of the two).

This means that if you want something done quickly and to high quality, you’ll pay the price. If you want something done cheaply and to high quality, you can bet it will take a long time to get the project finished (if you can even pair up price and quality to begin with). And if you want something done quickly and cheaply, you’ll likely pay for it with a low quality job.

In this case, beware the contractor who offers “fast” paint removal from brick. The only way you’ll get fast paint removal from brick is at the cost of compromising the very integrity of your masonry. This is where blasting brick to remove paint comes in. Blasting brick is a great way to remove paint “fast.” What it does to the brick? Not so great.

These guys may be setting a speed record on paint removal. That's not a good thing.

These guys may be setting a speed record on paint removal. That’s not a good thing.

2. Brick valleys

Masonry, even the old “soft” brick is a pretty smooth building material. It doesn’t have ridges and valleys, like what we see here, once the damage has been done.

When the hard outer shell of the brick has been removed, you’re left with a much softer interior. Soft interiors+freeze/thaw cycles=bad news. But, while the structural integrity of the brick has been compromised, at least the paint’s gone!

They had the blaster set to "destroy" for this job. Notice how the horizontal lines extend along the same level, from one brick to another? This was caused by the blasting material (in this case, water), the proximity of the tool to the surface (too close), and the pressure of the blasting.

They had the blaster set to “destroy” for this job. Notice how the horizontal lines extend along the same level, from one brick to another? This was caused by the blasting material (in this case, water), the proximity of the tool to the surface (too close), and the pressure of the blasting.

3. Nozzles and brick: up close and personal

Now, it’s not that we frown upon anything harsher than cotton balls dipped in warm water, delicately rubbed back in forth in a gentle, circular motion, to cure what ills your brick. It’s just that there’s this wide gulf of possibility between too gentle and too harsh. Yes, you can loosen flaking paint with water jets. But, you have to be careful that the pressure setting won’t harm your brick. You also have to be mindful that water, as the sworn enemy of historic buildings, will do bad things if it gets into the building. And, even a low setting too close to the wall can be bad for your brick. A high setting too close to the wall is more like fatal for your brick.

Bye bye paint, bye bye brick crust, bye bye brick integrity.

Bye bye paint, bye bye brick crust, bye bye brick integrity.

As preservationists, we should all savor the opportunities to educate people about the wonderful assets they have, and that the care and maintenance of elderly buildings is best left to restoration professionals.

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