Interior transom windows

opphopOctober 23, 2013

In our 110 year old renovation house, we have replaced 14 interior transom window frames. Prior owners had installed dropped acoustic ceilings and pulled out or boarded up the original transoms. We have no record of what the original glass might have looked like.

Can anyone tell us what the style would have been in the Mid-Atlantic region/Western PA around 1900? We were going to have clear leaded glass windows made, then considered stained glass, then my MIL said there used to be a covering put on plain glass to keep light glare out of the rooms at night when the hall lights are turned on, mostly on the second story.

Any ideas are appreciated. We also will be doing the same on the exterior transom and we're thinking stained glass would be appropriate there.

In this photo, you can see where many doors converge near the kitchen.

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lazy_gardens

The ones I have seen had clear or frosted glass.

fancier glass would be appropriate for the fancier public areas, but kitchens and bedrooms would have been plainer - except maybe for the master's suite.

Hotel transoms had a pull-down shade.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:43AM
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Cassandra

I have one interior transom in my 1913 Midwest home, the bathroom door. It has its original glass and is clear. My living and dining rooms have large bottom sashes and transom-size top sashes. The tops have original stained glass or patterned leaded glass.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 7:06PM
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opphop

Marita, any chance you could send photos?
Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:32PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

If every other window in the house was stained glass, then stained glass interior transoms would be appropriate maybe 25% of the time. They were for air and light. Cutting out the light means that it would have only been there for air.
Casey

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 7:51AM
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opphop

Hi Casey,
Funny, I am in the midst of reading an old post that you wrote about buying American soapstone. I'm shopping for that too. I have access to Alberene ss and the pc I tested was soft. Can you give me help on that topic, too?

Thanks,
Rhonda

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 8:44AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

The alberene website should be most helpful, but as I recall, the Old Dominion is the softest, followed by Alberene, and finally Church Hill (which is my SS) is the hardest. I haven't had any issues with chips or scratches at all, and it was a bear to hone, I had to resort to diamond discs at $40 a piece to sand it with any kind of speed. Oh, it turned dark within 9 months.
Some friends put in Alberene, and it was much softer, I know because I installed it for them; it was so much easier to work with, but they have a lot of edge wear/chips, and theirs is two years newer than mine.
Casey

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 9:50AM
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Cassandra

harmony,
I'm sorry that the photos I have are not great. Here's the only shot of the bathroom transom I have. It is in the upper left. There's not much more to see; it is just plain glass.

And here are a few shots of the exterior windows in the living and dining rooms with their 100 year old stained glass and leaded glass.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 6:10AM
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Cassandra

A few close ups:

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 6:19AM
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opphop

Marita, thank you. Beautiful examples of three varieties of glass That helps me immensely. Your craftsman window in the dining room is really stunning and allows me to see how some color in the midst of clear glass is an elegant choice.

The responses to my original question tell me that exterior transoms are the proper place for color or leaded patterns whereas the interior glass is usually plain.

Thanks again for taking the time to send the photos!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Cassandra

Harmony, yes, it was true that one hundred years ago the interior transoms were plain, but if I ever needed to replace the bathroom window, I'd opt for stained glass! I just love the stuff. .

Thanks for the compliments! I live in an area of big old houses (St. Paul) and my stained and lead glass is supremely modest compared to to some.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Cassandra

Oh, harmony, BTW I put soapstone in my kitchen a couple of years ago and LOVE it. It is Julia (not sure if this variety is still around). It is very hard and has gorgeous emerald green undertones. Perfect for an old house. P.S. and also very hard to photograph well.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 2:12PM
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camlan

I just remembered that my college dorm (built in 1910) had transoms over all the room doors. They had a pebbled sort of glass in them.

They still worked in the 1980s when I was a student there and we loved them for air circulation in the warmer months. You could open your window and open the transom and if the girl across the hall did the same thing, you'd get a pleasant cross-breeze. And thank goodness for quiet hours so there was no noise to carry through the open transoms.

This was in Boston, MA.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 3:05PM
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camlan

I just remembered that my college dorm (built in 1910) had transoms over all the room doors. They had a pebbled sort of glass in them.

They still worked in the 1980s when I was a student there and we loved them for air circulation in the warmer months. You could open your window and open the transom and if the girl across the hall did the same thing, you'd get a pleasant cross-breeze. And thank goodness for quiet hours so there was no noise to carry through the open transoms.

This was in Boston, MA.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 5:02PM
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vjrnts

Marita, I have soapstone with gorgeous green inclusions as well. I love it to death.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 6:44PM
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old_house_j_i_m

Hi Harmony, I am in the process of buying my third old house and the second floor includes transoms above each door. the doors are untouched original and the glass is all clear.

Sounds like you are looking for some examples of something fancier. I don't think there will be any. Most were clear or textured and limited to utilitarian or sleeping areas of the house. I have never seen a transom in a formal area of a home.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 9:03AM
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Cassandra

I forgot that I have old style transom windows in my university office, still with the opening mechanism attached. The building I'm in is one of the most venerable on campus, built around the turn of last century. The original glass on the transom window as well as the door panel window is a kind of thick textured glass in a diamond pattern. It prevents seeing through the glass. It is hard to describe and impossible to photograph well. Just thought you'd like to know!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 4:38PM
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