Window Replication or Restoration: Which Is Better?So, you own a historic building in need of new windows. The local preservation council insists that you either restore the current windows or replace them with historically accurate replicas. What do you do? Is it better to restore or to replicate? That depends on many things, ranging from window condition to your budget. Making a decision requires sitting down and evaluating all of the factors in play.

In a perfect world, history lovers would prefer your old windows be restored by a master craftsman who is also a preservationist expert. However, restoration is expensive work in light of modern building codes and preservation regulations. It may be that the owner of a historic building cannot afford restoration, thereby dictating replica windows be made.

Even in the midst of ongoing preservation efforts, things in Cuba rarely go as well as they do here in the US. The economics of the island still dictate that more money and effort must go into infrastructure needs than into the preservation of old buildings. This is easily demonstrated in the arena of window restoration and replication, which can be prohibitively expensive for many buildings.

Repurposing Old Materials

The primary means of addressing windows in preservation projects has been to re-purpose materials from other buildings. When an old building in Cuba is demolished, project managers do everything they can to save what can be saved. It is not uncommon to find intact windowpanes, or complete windows for that matter, taken from demolished buildings and used for preservation projects. The repurposing of these old materials is likely to continue in Cuba for the foreseeable future.

With that said, renewed relations between Cuba and the United States should open the door for more active window restoration and replication using modern materials and techniques. It may take a while for things to get going, but there is little doubt it will happen.

More Talent to Cuba

Students from the University of Vermont visited Cuba in 2002 for the purposes of studying preservation efforts in Havana’s city center. At that time, such visits were rare, given the hostile relationship between Cuba and the U.S. That has changed dramatically. We now expect more preservation groups and universities to take trips to Cuba to be involved in preservation efforts. We expect to see some of the best and brightest focus on Cuba for window restoration and replication.

Why are windows so vital to historic preservation? Because window making techniques have changed so drastically in the last hundred years that modern windows make historical accuracy difficult. It takes the knowledge and skill of a preservationist to restore or design and build replica windows that are faithful to the past but compliant with the present.

Why are windows so vital to historic preservation? Because window making techniques have changed so drastically in the last hundred years that modern windows make historical accuracy difficult. It takes the knowledge and skill of a preservationist to restore or design and build replica windows that are faithful to the past but compliant with the present.

We believe renewed relations between the U.S. and Cuba will mean great things for preservation efforts – especially where window restoration and replication are concerned. We are looking forward to any opportunities this may present to us – opportunities that may enable us to be involved in preserving some of the most historically significant buildings in Cuba.

NTHP LOGO RGB noTAG dhr logo web grey transparent FHS Logo 300x300