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Historic Preservation 
Window and Plaster Restoration

I have worked alongside Sally for four years between my high school internship and three years working as an S. A. Fishburn Inc. employee.  She has given me insight into her three decades of experience in historic preservation.  During my senior year of High School, I dedicated six hours every Sunday towards learning how to restore doors, windows, and shutters.  After receiving my degree at Vermont Tech, she hired me for eight jobs around Vermont in the space of three years: four plaster restorations at the West Brookfield Meetinghouse, St. Catherine of Siena in Shelburne, the Braintree Meetinghouse, and the Marvin Newton house in Brookfield; a window frame restoration at the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington, a sash restoration for the Norwich Congregational Church, a sash restoration for Gihon Valley Hall in Hyde Park, and a restoration of the sashes and building storm windows for St. Johnsbury History & Heritage.

Window Restoration

The majority of the work I did during my time at S. A. Fishburn Inc. was window restoration. The picture below demonstrate the sorts of tasks and repairs I did as part of this process.

Above: Slide show of an interior muntin repair without removing the glass

Above: Slide show of an interior muntin repair without removing the glass

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Mortise Repairs

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Repairing G

Cosmetic Repairs

It is not uncommon to find that a well-meaning person has tried open a sash by prying it open with a screwdriver.  Not only is this method ineffective but in some instances can be the cause of extensive cosmetic damage as seen here.

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Repairing Busted Edges

The slide show below demonstrates how a damaged muntin's profile was carved to resemble the original. These two pieces of wood are joined with a curved spline glued into a groove on the exterior side.



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Although I have encountered some pretty severely damaged plaster in my career, the patch of plaster featured below would win the prize for needing the most assistance.  I have chosen this repair as an example for discussing plaster restoration since this repair required pretty much every sort of repair method in the trade.


Over time plaster tends to pull away from the lath as the building settles. This retraction of the plaster will often create cracks where it occurs.

Drilling holes through the plaster without drilling through the lath is the first step in repairing plaster. Once the holes have been vacuumed, They are injected with adhesive and fastened to the lath by driving flat washers into the wall.


A bump is often noticeable on the wall wherever a pocket is between the plaster and the lath.  After one round of adhesion, this bump remained as pronounced as the day before.  However, knowing that this bump was in the peak of a pitched church ceiling with a dark attic and a narrow catwalk above, it did not seem improbable that a misplaced step might have displaced the lath.  The lath was driven back to the studs using the washers seen in vertical lines in the picture above.


Once the adhesive has dried, the washers holding the plaster to the lath are removed. The holes drilled in the first step are filled with lime putty or joint compound depending on whether the plaster is composed of lime or gypsum.


Above is a picture of the same repair after the second coat of gypsum plaster.


The damage is no longer visible after a skim coat of joint compound.



During my internship with Sally back in high school, I dedicated six hours every Sunday to learn how to restore doors, windows, and shutters. The pictures in the gallery below are of some of the projects I worked on during my Senior Project at Danville High School.

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