Monday, January 03, 2011

More on “Cottage Widows”

If you read yesterday's post you know I got the term “Cottage Widow” from Historic House Parts, a salvage yard in New York. I'm curious if anyone else has heard this term used to describe the Victorian era wooden windows made with colored glass. Is it a vernacular term used mainly on the East Coast or is it just used by Historic House Parts? Maybe it is a common term and I've just never heard it before. Regardless, I like it

Here in Humboldt County most of the stained glass windows you see on Victorian homes can be described as Cottage Windows. My own house has 3 and I plan to make two more for the two front doors.

A common design of this style of colored glass in the front door window around here employs a uniform series of glass squares around the perimeter with a large pane of clear glass in the center. I'll see if I can get some pictures soon. Although my front door was not originally done in the cottage window style, other cottage windows on my house have a similar design (See yesterday's post).

The big difference between mine and a lot of others you see around here is that on mine the panes of colored glass are not uniformly sized all the way around. There are squares at the corners and rectangles on the sides and top. This is what drove the original design for my front doors. See below.

Original Design

Then after looking at some of the samples at Historic House Parts I changed the design of my windows. My main concern with trying to do the uniform squares all the way around is that it does not leave much room for error. If I limit the design to one size of square I could end up with a window too big or too small. For example, if I had 7 panes going up the side and each square is off by a quarter of an inch that adds up to an inch a three quarters too tall or too short.

Examples of Cottage Windows from Historic House Parts

Design Round Two – Inspired by Historic House Parts

With this design I can play with the length of the center panes to make sure the window fits the existing opening on the door. The pinkish glass was added as well, and is taken from the big front window that is original to my house (See yesterday's post). The real trick may be matching the texture of the 1895 glass.


Jesse said...

It sounds great Greg. I am glad you are back. I like the design you have. Are the two little squares that say glue glass going to be clear like the large middle piece? Have you thought that once it is done and in the door it might look like the clear pieces are to replace colored squares that were broken or something. I am just trying to help. Your friend

mickmaguire said...

your original design is pretty common on similar period houses here in New England, and IMO looks much cleaner and simpler than your modified design.

Greg said...


The glue chip isn't clear, but opaque, at best. I think it would fall under the term "obscure glass". If you look at yesterday's post you can see how it was used in the upstairs window.


You know, I agree in that the original design looked better cleaner. I have a few weeks to finalize the design. You may see a few more.

What about leaded glass? Would you see these cottage windows used on the same houses with leaded glass windows. How common do you see both on the same house in your area?

Karen Anne said...

What were the people thinking who painted those windows? I mean, even if I didn't mask the glass, I could do better than that.

Derek said...

I've heard cottage windows describing sash windows where the top sash is smaller than the bottom.

Greg said...


That was what I was thinking at first, but now I'm wondering if that isn't that fake snow stuff.


Interesting. Another term for Cottage Window.

mickmaguire said...

I cant think of a single period Victorian house round here that has leaded. I have a suspicion that it may have something to do with the cold climate but can't be sure.

ebay items 300508577855 200558609256 for some other examples

Jayne said...

I've heard the term cottage windows before (I live in Missouri) and around here it's used to describe the same type of windows you have. I have four of them in the front parlor of my house, which is an 1887 Folk Victorian. Here's a blurry photo of them, but you get the idea:
In my hometown (Lexington, Missouri) several Vics have leaded glass sidelights or smaller windows that are leaded glass. I'm pretty sure the big Queen Anne down the street from me has both leaded glass & stained glass...I'll have to look tomorrow.

Greg said...

Very nice. Perhaps the cottage window was the norm and not the exception.

StuccoHouse said...

We have a type of house around here that is frequently called "folk victorian." And those leaded windows are pretty common in those houses they get called folk windows. I've always liked them.

Marilyn said...

I have always seen the term "Queen Anne Style Windows" for that style here in Michigan.