Preserving the Charm of Boise’s Historic Districts
The windows within historic districts are as varied as the houses themselves. Each architectural style’s unique windows are integral to interpreting the style. Altering the windows can potentially change the structure’s status from contributing to noncontributing to the historic district. The window type, the material used, and the window depth within the wall plane all affect the overall building design.
Whether ornate or plain, windows are an integral part of a building’s style, and express its history and architectural style. Although it is easy to see the need to preserve the high-style windows of a Queen Anne mansion, the humbler windows of a small cottage are as important since they may be the building’s only stylistic feature. On a simple building, altering the windows’ shape or configuration could easily change the structure’s entire appearance and historic integrity.
Vinyl windows are not permitted within Boise’s Historic Districts. When replacing existing vinyl windows on a property, an approved material must be installed. If you have questions, please contact Historic Preservation staff.
Historic District Windows
The U.S Department of Interior has written a set of Historic Preservation recommendations which include "identifying, retaining, and preserving windows and their functional and decorative features that are important in defining the overall historic character of the building. Such features can include frames, sash, muntins, glazing, sills, heads, hoodmolds, paneled or decorated jambs and moldings, and interior and exterior shutters and blinds."
When making decisions regarding renovations in a historic district, first identify these important window features. Consider making small improvements such as removing paint that has sealed the window closed and weatherproofing by recaulking or installing weather-stripping or storm windows. If elements of the window's structure have rotted, consolidation or in-kind replacement of those elements can be an effective way to save an otherwise viable window while retaining the window's character defining elements.
Download the Historic District Windows brochure for more information and illustrations of different window types.