Cedar Rapids homeowners repair historic windows struck in derecho

Stacey Middlekauff demonstrates how to set a rolled glass window during a workshop Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids on how to repair antique windows. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Stacey Middlekauff finishes setting a pane glass window during a workshop Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids on how to repair antique windows. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Homeowner Kat Armstrong (left) watches Stacey Middlekauff demonstrate window restoration techniques on windows she supplied for a workshop Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Terry Philips, owner of T.K. Enterprises of Riverside, carries a window frame to be set with new glass during a workshop Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids on how to repair antique windows. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Stacey Middlekauff demonstrates for attendees the proper way to set a rolled glass window during a workshop on how to repair antique windows Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

Stacey Middlekauff demonstrates how to set a rolled glass window during a workshop on how to repair antique windows Saturday at the J.E. Halvorson House in Cedar Rapids. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two years after the derecho, some Cedar Rapids homeowners still are restoring historic elements like windows in their homes that were struck by trees and strong winds.

Save CR Heritage hosted a historic window restoring workshop over the weekend with the Oak Hill Jackson Neighborhood Association to educate homeowners on how to sustainably rework century-old homes.

Cedar Rapids homeowner Kat Armstrong is repairing nearly 30 of her house’s 1925 windows following the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho, she said. An ash tree broke off and fell on part of her house, causing extensive water damage and knocking the chimney off the house.

“There’s not a single room in my house that doesn’t need to be restored,” she said. “The impact of the tree actually cost a ton of my windows to not open. … It took about 14 months for insurance to approve coverage for extra things.”

During the workshop, employees of T.K. Enterprises of Riverside demonstrated window repairs on her house’s windows.

Armstrong said she and her son, Kyle Armstrong, are planning to finish the rest of the windows themselves to cut costs of hiring a contractor. She said her insurance covered restoration of only 17 out of the 26 windows.

Some Iowa homeowners struggled to secure contractors after the derecho, especially those with historic homes.

“Everything else is going to look brand-new and it is going to be silly to have about 10 windows that don’t match,” Armstrong said. “Having a skill like this is something not only useful for preservation but it’s necessary.”

Save CR Heritage president Nikki Halvorson said it can be daunting for historic homeowners to buy all new windows.

“That’s like a $30,000 to $50,000 project depending on how many windows, or if you are replacing them all at one time, they can be restored, affordably actually, and you can do it yourself to save labor costs,” she said.

Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2018 that over 455 million tons of demolition materials, like repurposed doors and windows, were used a second time and under 145 million tons were sent to landfills.

“It has environmental impacts, especially with windows, the wood ones can last kind of indefinitely,” Halvorson said. “You can replace parts of them. Newer replacement windows, you can’t. They call them replacement windows for a reason.”

Dorothy de Souza Guedes, president of the historic Oak Hill Jackson Neighborhood Association, said a lot of trees went down in the neighborhood during the derecho.

“ (The workshop) helps people understand that you don’t have to modernize an older home with vinyl windows or vinyl siding,” she said.

Terry Philips, owner of T.K. Enterprises of Riverside and workshop teacher, said a lot of his work has been restoring windows hit by the derecho. He added that while not many people restore historic homes in the state, it can be done or learned.

“It’s important to understand that this is just giving them a taste,” he said. “They are not trained to go out and do stuff but they understand the concepts and some of the skill sets and the tools.”

Comments: (319) 339-3159; sabine.martin@thegazette.com

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