What are the elements of design in the elevations of the small house? Surely they are not the five classical orders, as commonly used in monumental architecture, but rather they are the doors and windows. The successful placing and careful detailing of the doors and windows of a small house will have more to do with the architectural attractiveness of the structure than anything else, for, after all, the most important part of any elevation is the treatment of the holes in it. The walls would be plain and uninteresting but for the holes where the doors and windows are placed. The fenestration cannot be too large or too small, and here is the problem. We desire plenty of light and air, but we must also recognize that windows which are too large leave little wall space in the rooms, are cold in winter, and appear less homelike than smaller and snugger appearing ones. Then, too, windows which are of plain, clear glass in very large sheets make these holes appear open and black, and this is quite contrary to our traditions of the windows of a home, which should be safe and cosey. The omission of muntins from the windows of small houses is a great mistake in design, even though these small panes require a little more work to wash.
Our traditions of door and window construction come, as do other structural traditions, from England. Undoubtedly the earliest structures had no windows at all, but were lighted by the openings through the defective construction of the walls and also through the door. Our ancestors of those days were more interested in protecting themselves from outside intruders than they were in fresh air and sunshine in their rooms. When it was safe to build windows they were only holes in the walls. Some of the old huts, built on crucks, a construction previously described, had holes in the roofs for windows, which served the double purpose of letting in light and letting out the smoke of the fire. We get an inkling of what a window was from the very derivation of the word itself, which comes from the old Norse word "wind-auga" or wind-eye. This does not sound like a glazed sash, nor does the other Anglo-Saxon term for window, "wind-dur," meaning wind-door, suggest a closed aperture. Of course these windows were undoubtedly closed in some way or other in stormy weather or when danger was outside. Probably a wooden board or shutter was used, which had a small peep-hole cut in it. These were hung from the top, and when opened were held in position with a prop on the outside.
There is no certainty of when the smaller domestic houses of England began to use glazed windows. In 1519 William Hor-man wrote: "I wyll haue a latesse before the glasse for brekynge." This would suggest that windows of latticework were preferred because of the cost of glass, and this might have been filled instead with canvas, horn, or. tile to let in some light. But another writer in 1562 says: "Lattice keepeth out the light and letteth in the winde." When glass windows were used, however, the small bits of glass were held in position by lead in diamond-shaped patterns, which probably were adopted from the form of the old lattice windows, although later it was found that rectangular panes were cheaper. But the use of glass in small houses is comparatively modern, for, before the reign of Henry VIII, glass windows were rare except in churches and gentlemen's houses.
A Lattice. Window (B).
Traditions of stone mullioned windows were very strong, and these brought about a system of building wooden, unglazed sash which had mullions made of oak, set in a heavy oak frame. One of these is shown in the drawings. The word "sash" is derived from the French "chassis," and its earliest spelling was "shas" or "shash." In a book, "Mechanick Exercises," written by Moxon in 1700, he mentions "shas frames and shas lights." It was these old, unglazed wooden sash which gave birth to the modern double-hung and casement window.
As first made, they opened by sliding in their frames, either horizontally or vertically. If they were built to slide vertically they were not counterbalanced with weights, as in our modern windows, but were held in position with a hook which caught in notches cut in the side of the frame. It is interesting to quote here what William Horman wrote in 1519: "I haue many prety wyndowes shette with louys goynge up and downe."
It is supposed that the idea of counterbalancing these sash by means of weights, attached by a cord running up over a pulley, came to England from Holland. This type began to be used about the latter half of the seventeenth century, and although the early examples were clumsy and heavy and the groove in which the sash were made to run was worked out in the solid, yet by the process of years of refinement the modern double-hung window was evolved. The traditions of these sliding windows were brought to America in Colonial days, and they proved to be the most suitable types for our rigorous climate, whereas the windows, which swung like doors from their sides, called casement windows, did not prove so weather-resisting.
An old. unglazed. window, the early beginnings of sash.
Crude beginning of the Sliding sask.
Modern Double-hung Window.
Casement Window Bath Manage inward.
To hear some individuals talk, one would almost think that the double-hung window was a modern, American invention of artistic atrociousness, and that the casement window was peculiarly English, having the sole right to artistic merit. As a matter of fact, the fashion in England for casement windows was an imported one from the Continent, which never reached certain farm sections of England. In fact, some years ago certain agricultural laborers refused to live in cottages fitted with casement windows which had been built by a district council. The Georgian revival, which had so much influence upon our early Colonial work, and which is also very much alive to-day in this country, brought into fashion again the traditional double-hung window.
Of course there is much to be said against the artistic appearance of the double-hung window as compared with the casement window, but when all is said and done we still go on using more double-hung windows than casement windows, for in the majority of cases they prove to be more substantial in resisting the heavy winds and storms of our climate. Every now and again we hear some prominent architect urging the use of casement windows, and we can find plenty of manufacturers of casement-window hardware telling us to use them, and the makers of steel casement sash drum in our ears the practical qualities of steel sash, and one is led to wonder why they are not used more. But traditions are stronger than advertisements.