Resources for restoring historic homes

Whether your home is historic, or simply old, these resources will help you save money and maintain the distinctive architectural style of the house you love.  (See the main page in this section for local organizations and research resources.)

Note that while some members of the Society have experience with some of these, this list doesn't represent an endorsementIf you have experiences with any of these, or others you recommend we add, please let us know

Tips from homeowners
  • View tips from owners of historic homes in Marlborough and contribute your own experiences here.
Resources from Historic New England

Covering a wide variety of restoration projects

Architectural salvage

View Architectural Salvage in New England in a larger map

Please send us comments and suggestions for this list of resources.

Architects and builders

  • The Consultant Directory, from Preservation Massachusetts, with architects, engineers, builders,and others that specialize in historic preservation and restoration.  (Some of these firms focus on large public projects, so explain the scope of your project when first making inquiries)
  • The Directory of Preservation Products and Services, from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance.

Courses and instructional material

Hands-on courses,  literature, and instructional videos in one or more aspects of historic preservation:
Color selection

By Roger Moss, an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Program:
  • Century of Color: Exterior Decoration for American Buildings, 1820-1920 (1981)--A classic; includes paint color samples.
  • Victorian Exterior Decoration: How to Paint Your Nineteenth-Century American House Historically (1992)
  • Paint in America: The Colors of Historic Buildings (1995)
By Robert Schweitzer:
  • Bungalow Colors Exteriors (2002)
Plans, construction practices, and architectural detail
  • The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is ". . .primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books and technical building guides. Trade catalogs are an important primary source to document past design and construction practices. These materials can aid in the preservation and conservation of older structures as well as other research goals."

Porches, railings, and latticework


Windows: Appearance

Windows: Restoration

An excellent hands-on workshop, covered in five videos.   (Bear with the lead-in; the workshop itself is very good.)

Simple Steps to Working Windows (Part 1 of 5)

Simple Steps to Working Windows (Part 2 of 5)

Simple Steps to Working Windows (Part 3 of 5)

Simple Steps to Working Windows (Part 4 of 5)

Simple Steps to Working Windows (Part 5 of 5)

From the YouTube description of the event that was taped:

Simple Steps to Working Windows was filmed in Kalamazoo, Michigan, during the first of several window rehabilitation workshops held by the City of Kalamazoo and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. During the initial workshop, twelve contractors were trained.

Windows: Energy Efficiency

The interest in energy efficiency and concerns over the suitability of wood windows today indicated a need for additional resources and a dedicated section.
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation's window information for homeowners and their newest study, released in December 2012.

Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement

  • Several excellent instructional videos from the Kansas Historical Society in conjunction with their state's historic preservation effort.
Our algorithm demonstrates that it is far more cost effective to add a storm window to a well- maintained historical window than to replace the window with a new IG unit. The thermal performance of the two window options is similar, see Figure 8. Therefore, the substantial upfront cost differential is never overcome.
  • Energy efficiency is discussed in Testing the Energy Performance of Historic Windows in a Cold Climate (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Publication No. 1997-16)

[Note: The entire document appears below this excerpt.]

"A study was undertaken to determine the feasibility of renovating and upgrading an original condition window to the extent that its thermal performance would be equivalent to a window using replacement sash or window inserts. The study was funded by the State of Vermont Division for Historic Preservation based on a grant received from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training of the U.S. National Park Service. . . .

"Estimated annual savings per window due to renovations or upgrades ranged from zero to a high of $3.60 as compared to a typical baseline window. Annual savings compared to a tight window ranged from $0.05 to $2.10 per window while savings compared to a loose window ranged from $12.40 to $16.60 per window. Pay-back period for any upgrade as compared to any of the typical windows was measured in decades.

"A systematic upgrade of an original sash window can potentially approach the thermal performance of an upgrade utilizing replacement sash although decisions should not be based solely on energy considerations due to the similarity in savings between upgrades. It was found that approximately 85% of energy costs associated with thermal losses through and around a window were due to non-infiltrative losses. . . ."

Testing the Energy Performance of Historic Windows in a Cold Climate