Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Windows Restoration and Refinishing Update March 11, 2016

wp-1457727516370.jpgLast Fall, we got a stretch of warm weather that allowed us to kick start our windows project. This is an ongoing project, given the house has roughly 50 windows all in some state of disrepair. The warm spell allowed me to complete the finishes on the windows in the kitchen addition. These seven windows were new construction, but were never painted or stained when the previous owner installed them. This is still our “work room,” so excuse the mess, but the trim turned out great, if I do say so myself.





wp-1457577037300.jpgWe used new wood because it seemed silly to spend on historic/old growth on a room that’s new construction. Just the same, we wanted the look to flow with the rest of the house. I used a combination of General Finishes gel stain and shellac and was able to add some pretty nice depth and color to builder basic wood. These boards are 1×4 that were routered to mimic the larger trim in the rest of the house.





















wp-1457727655108.jpgWhile I worked on these windows, my engineer husband worked out a frame that we could insert in our historic windows behind the storms so we could continue working on windows through the winter, new baby permitting. He used a mural panel from one of my previous projects, so we had a lovely cartoon view for the in-progress windows.























In addition to refinishing, our historic windows get new glazing, new glass where required, new ropes, and weatherstripping. We’re excited to watch our heating bills plummet with each redone window.


Window Restoration aka 70° November Days Are Insane November 4, 2015


I could have worked on windows all summer long, but why would I do that when I had all the time in the world? I was caring for a new baby so I guess I have some excuse this year.

Our third child turned six months old just as the weather turned cooler. I suddenly thought I needed to rush to make up for all of the time I lost in restoring our windows. It started with finishing the windows that I had pulled a year ago, just before finding out that I was pregnant. Then I started pulling windows from our addition, a space that had new construction wood windows that had never been finished by the previous owner. Now it seems like I’m in a never ending friends eat to beat the clock and the following temperature is to finish every window in the house ( which of course is not going to happen before winter).

I’ll try to post photos of my process work when I have a little more time but for now I’m happy to be back full steam in the neverending restoration.


Ease Your Panes – Window Restoration Class Comes to Des Moines April 2, 2014

windowworkshopHatton House is hosting a window restoration class for the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. I’ve wanted to take a class like this since we bought this house, and after a year of planning, it’s finally coming to fruition right in my backyard…er…middle parlor! The class will be taught by David Wadsworth of Decorah, Iowa, and will be a hands on workshop where people will have the chance to work on donated windows and learn the ins and outs of window restoration.

Why did I want this class? Original restored windows with storms have a higher R value than replacement windows, but the cost of hiring someone to restore them would be cost prohibitive for us. $500-700 per window is unrealistic for a house/budget like ours. Learning to restore windows for roughly $40 in materials per window would be pretty easy to recoup a return on investment (especially in a house as drafty as ours!)

There are a few spots left at the class this Spring, so sign up today. Here’s the link: http://renovatedsm.org/class-announcement-restoring-wood-windows-with-david-wadsworth/ See you in a few weeks!


Historic Des Moines Alert! Tell St Augustin’s Church 100 Year Old Homes Are Important August 21, 2013

I saw a post in Des Moines Rehabber’s Facebook Group and wanted to share with you here. Reposted from Steve Wilke-Shapiro with permission. Steve is working on setting up standards in Des Moines so that there will be an approval process before historic buildings are destroyed, but that process is not yet in place. Please consider contacting your city council member about these homes:

From Steve: I have it on good authority that St. Augustin’s intends to pursue demolition of the two 100-year-old homes it owns adjacent to its parking lot on Grand. These buildings are listed as contributing structures in a National Register Historic District. A serious potential buyer is working to evaluate moving the structures, and the church is required by agreement with the City to facilitate this resolution… they have been actively avoiding complying with that agreement, going so far as to file a lawsuit against the City.

If you have an interest in historic preservation, I encourage you to communicate to your council representatives and encourage them to delay issuing a demolition permit until one of three things has occurred: the potential buyer has completed evaluation of relocation, a redevelopment plan has been approved, or two months has passed.

The key is to ask for a “cooling off” period. We only get one shot to save these historic buildings – when they are gone, they are gone. St. Augustin’s has not communicated a plan other than to tear them down, so it is clear that there is not an immediate need. A period of two more months would not adversely affect the Church, except that they want what they want.

This is an emergency… the Council meeting is Monday, August 26th. The more people who communicate by then, the better chance of averting a complete loss of these historic homes.

Excerpted from the Greenwood Plat District Nomination Form:
4005 Grand Avenue: (Contributing, 1908)
This is a two-story hip roof Classical Revival style house plan. The house fronts south on Grand Avenue but it has a double façade, with semi-circular roofed dormers fronting to the south and east. A frame wrap-around porch covers the south half of the east façade and the west part of the south façade. The main chimney with corbelled cap is located on the east end of the main roof ridge. A secondary chimney, equal in scale but unadorned, is on a rear wing. There is no garage but there is a porte cochere to the west of the house.

4011 Grand Avenue: (Contributing, 1909)
This is a two-story Classical Revival style hip roof house plan. The building massing is complicated. The core rectangle is elaborated with a three-sided full-height bay at the east (right) side of the façade, while a shallow wing on the rear of the east wall also features a full-height three-sided bay projection. Hip roof dormers are placed above each of these bay projections. The architects were Liebbe, Nourse and Rasmussen – a well respected historical Des Moines firm.