Historic home preservation put in homeowners' hands - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Historic home preservation put in homeowners' hands

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David Wadsworth teaches a workshop participant about restoring wooden windows David Wadsworth teaches a workshop participant about restoring wooden windows
DUBUQUE (KWWL) - A partnership and workshop this week in Dubuque is helping owners of historic homes preserve history - and save some money.

Cities all across eastern Iowa are filled with historic buildings, which help maintain the past but can also be difficult to keep up.

At the Four Mounds Foundation grounds in Dubuque Thursday afternoon, about a dozen Dubuque-area homeowners gathered to learn how to restore historic buildings' wooden windows.

David Wadsworth owns Wadsworth Construction in Decorah and was leading the workshop.

"A lot of times, people look at their windows, they may see a little rot in the corner and they think, 'Well, I don't know what to do with that, it's garbage. I'm going to get rid of it,'" Wadsworth said. "Generally, you can repair the small places like that with just some epoxy."

Jim Gonyier attended the workshop, which was free to anyone who lives within Dubuque County. He owns a Dubuque home that was built in 1918 and said although he could just buy modern windows, he doesn't want to.

"Replacing the windows with new windows is very expensive," Gonyier said, adding restoring his existing historic wooden windows "will save me a lot of money in doing that."

Plus, he said, he just likes the historic look of his home.

"I've looked at other modern windows, and, it's just, I don't want to go there," Gonyier said.

Chris Happ Olson is executive director of the Four Mounds Foundation, which hosted and coordinated this week's window restoration workshops. She said historic homes are located all throughout Iowa, but there's an especially high concentration in Dubuque - Iowa's oldest city.

"Most of (Dubuque's) buildings pre-date 1940 and therefore it really is important for people to be able to, when they're scratching their heads about how they're going to be able to tackle these windows, that they have some tools to be able to do that, and knowledge," she said.

Workshop participants applied their newly-acquired window rehabilitation knowledge to one of the historic buildings that sit on the Four Mounds Foundation's property.

"This one, in particular, I think it was built in the 20s," Wadsworth said, standing in front of a white building. "The windows have been on here 90 years now, and they're no worse for wear and will last for the age of the building because you can take care of them."

He said anyone with wooden windows can learn to take the simple steps to preserve history and save money.

"I'm glad I signed up for it and I'm here," Gonyier agreed.

He said he plans on applying this new knowledge and restoring a couple of windows at his own home.

People who want to learn more about wooden window preservation and rehabilitation can attend a restoration lecture Saturday in Dubuque. That's at 11 a.m. at the Shalom Spirituality Center at 1001 Davis Street in Dubuque. Admission is a free-will donation.
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