Just What Historical Preservation Needed: A Vintage Window That’s Thoroughly Modern


From Over-the-Rhine to Newport, from Glendale to Montgomery and dozens of in-fills and tear-downs in between, a tremendous amount of historical renovation is going on in Greater Cincinnati.

In many neighborhoods, preservation societies and local codes are requiring that renovations meet specific historical guidelines. And that often means some demanding requirements for historically accurate replacement windows.

For years, the window industry has undertaken an ongoing effort to meet the demand for such windows. It’s estimated 80 percent of construction is some type of renovation and, in urban areas especially, historic preservation is a driving force.

“The (window) industry has been getting push back from historical boards and other groups to design windows that have historic authenticity, with all the proper details,” says Tom Bugg, architectural sales consultant for Pella Windows and Doors of Cincinnati.

Enter Pella’s new line introduced in the last couple years – Architect Series Reserve – which the company feels offers the historical details architects crave while providing modern-day conveniences and proper insulation.

“The Reserve series shares most charachterisitcs of orignal windows,” Bugg says. “It’s been approved for projects that need historical representation in Cincinnati by the local conservator.”

Pella took seriously its research on the Reserve line, meeting with the National Park Service and dozens of regional historic preservation groups to gain feedback and understand the standards that need to go into an authentic vintage window design.

The result is a modern window that mimics several key historic features:


•    The use of putty glaze, profile grilles and sashes reflect how windows used to be made.

•    Butt joinery hearkens to historic window designs as compared to today’s mitered corners.

•    There is vertical through-stile construction along with thick sash and grille profiles with authentic sight lines.


“We’ve had an Architect series since the ‘90s which is a close representation of a lot of the elements,” says Fred Cernetisch, Pella Cincinnati general manager. “But the new Reserve is an enhancement that is incredibly accurate. We feel we now own this market, if historic accuracy is what you are looking for.”

Cernetisch says the Reserve line is aimed at the upper end of the market, most likely for homes in the $700,000 range and up. He says the Reserve has been instantly embraced by the commercial market because contractors often face many requirements for historical preservation.

“Over-the-Rhine is perfect for this window with its renovation boom. You drive around by Findlay Market, Main Street, Vine Street, you’ll see a lot of Pella stickers,” Cernetisch says.

Perhaps the real bonus for local builders and designers is the liaison Pella offers with its engineers. That’s were Bugg’s role comes in, with a value-added service.

“I meet all the time with the architect or contractor to help them understand the historical specifications. Our duty is to assist in showing what can be done. I get a feel for the right package and the authenticity needed in a historical district,” Bugg says. “It may be an interesting installation detail the architect needs. Or, I can go to the engineers at Pella to come up with the right structural performance. We come up with the installation details down to providing shop drawings. We can do a whole lot of things architecturally that other manufacturers don’t always do. I bridge the gap between the architect and the sales side.”

Bugg says the Reserve window can reduce the tension contractors may face between historic accuracy and LEED certification. After all, windows play a huge part in the green equation. But refurbishing existing windows may make it harder to get a LEED rating. “Using the Reserve, you can get both – a historically-accurate window and your LEED ratings,” Bugg says.

Another almost magical option in the Reserve line is Pella’s pioneering retractable screen. The screen unfolds seamlessly when the sash is opened and rolls back out of sight, hiding when the window is closed and you don’t need it.

“Pella engineers were able to solve the problem,” Cernetisch says.  “They took an almost 100-year-old technology for the pull-down shade and inserted the retractable screen inside the frame. It solves a big problem – if you are going to go to all the trouble to do this historically accurate window, why cover it up with a screen?”

While the stock Reserve window contains certain historic standards, it can come with thousands of combinations of options such as grill patterns, hardware, finish screens, jamb styles, brick molds and glass type. It is available in hung, casement, awning and hinged patio doors.

Bugg also works with architects and Pella engineers to match existing windows that builders still may want to repair and preserve. “The Reserve product can marry into an existing structure without disrupting other historical components. And in older neighborhoods, with tear-down or in-fill new construction, it lets you build a house to look like it has always been there.”

Bugg says making a historically accurate vintage window work can require plenty of consultation and guidance to architects and contractors. That’s the best part of his job, he adds.

“It’s rewarding to see a project from beginning to end and see how many people we have talked to, from architects and builders to engineers and historical preservation groups.”


The Pella Architect Reserve is available only at the Pella showroom, 9869 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. For more information, visit www.pellawindowscincinnati.com or call 513.936.5240