Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

A non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.

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The Window Weekend, Part I

The day was beautiful, with a nice breeze blowing. Not too hot and not too cold. Terry, our fearless leader showed up at the crack of 7:00 to get the house ready for the expected company. John and I show up at 8:15. There are 9 windows on the main floor that have original casings with about 4 coats of paint on them. They seem to have started out varnished, then they went to white, then a light yellow, then a light grey, and they ended in an off white.

Our mission for the day: remove as much of those four colors as humanly possible using soy paint remover, scrapers, and steel wool. The windows span from about 2 foot off the ground to about 7 foot high, and have many intricate groves and curves. These will look amazing when done, but they are nothing but a challenge today.

Terry slathers up most of the windows and then covers them in plastic so the soy can do its magic and save a little of our elbow grease. John and I both start in on our respective windows. He has a personal goal to finish his challenge today, I am happy to get to the 90% done point.

Terry prepping windows to be stripped

Terry prepping windows to be stripped

Windows with 4 coats of paint from as many or more decades

Windows with 4 coats of paint from as many or more decades

Soy paint remover on with plastic covering to slow down evaporation

Soy paint remover on with plastic covering to slow down evaporation

About 11:00 Gary shows up and then Bill. They are closely followed by our group that actually drove up from Milwaukee to help out – how great is that?!?! Sue, Rich, Lori, and Bryan. And that makes the group for the day. Everyone is friendly, and helpful, and seemingly happy to be there, and I am so very grateful that I can’t even express.

Once they all get the low down on the process, and get their tools, pick their windows, ask the questions they have, the house settles into this buzz of activity. Every window is being tended to, the two ladders are being shared back and forth and all of a sudden hours go by. There is paint that is giving up its hold on the structure that it has been attached to for some 30, 40, 90 years. Enough nudging and it finally lets go.

And this buzz of activity, this tending, is breathing yet more life into this old house. It is being cared for and loved as it was when it housed the many lock tender families who took such good care of it. 30 years of neglect and mothballing since then have taken their toll and we are here to fix that.

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