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Submission Requirements for Replacement Window Proposals

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office's Window Standards maintain that the repair of original windows in designated historic buildings is preferable to their replacement. Keeping these windows promotes the long-term preservation of the physical fabric, historic integrity, and appearance of the building. The Old Georgetown Board supports this position.

There are other benefits to preserving historic windows. For example, historic windows are typically made with significantly higher quality naturally grown old-growth wood where the wood matured slowly and incorporates dense and compacted growth rings. New wood windows, on the other hand, must rely on preservative coatings that do not endure over time. Original glass represents historic character due to its reflective patterns of unique individual panes. New glass, conversely, has a flat "plate-glass" appearance and insulated glass also takes on a mirrored look. The insulation function, moreover, only remains as long as the seal holds—approximately ten years. A new window unit or sash that requires additional trim to fill a gap between it and the existing window opening or frame is not considered an acceptable replacement.

Sash Replacements:

A permit application for the replacement of window sashes must include a survey of each existing window to be replaced, with photographic documentation, written description of present condition, and detailed drawings of the profile of the sash and muntins.

Information on the proposed replacement sashes must include manufacturer's literature on the specific product proposed, drawings of the new window, and each site-specific installation.

Frame, Jamb, and Sash Replacements:

A permit application for the replacement of windows must include a survey of each existing window, with photographic documentation, written description of present condition, and detailed drawings of the sill, head, jamb, sash, frame, muntin, mullion, shutter, trim, brick mold, and any other distinctive feature for each window proposed for replacement.

Information on the proposed replacement window unit must include manufacturer's literature on the specific product proposed and drawings of the new window and its site-specific installation, including dimensioned and detailed drawings of the sill, head, jamb, sash, frame, muntin, mullion, shutter, trim, brick mold, and any other distinctive feature for comparison.

Please Note: The applicant or applicant's agent must present their proposal at the Board's meeting. The Board reviews all proposals on a case-by-case basis, beginning with the premise that historic windows should be repaired where possible.

Revised April 2009

Last Modified: August 26, 2010