Historic windows at Cottage Grove Armory restored by hand

Historic windows at Cottage Grove Armory restored by hand

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Amy McAuley removes the windows in the historic Cottage Grove Armory with an ease born of experience.

"I'll take these pins out of each one, and it just slides out," she said.

Her goal isn't to replace the old windows but to restore them.

Window conservator Amy McAuley has brought her unique know-how to the old Cottage Grove Armory.  The city purchased the Armory to make it into a community center.

McAuley's job is to fix the window sashes.  

"I've worked on a lot of historic structures in this state and this building holds a special spot for me," she said.

The city won a state grant of $25,000 to help pay for the work.

"We've started basically renovations on the worst 35 windows in the building and having them repaired," said Richard Meyers, Cottage Grove City Manager.

The sashes are the old wood frames around the windows. Don't look for power tools.  This work is done with hand saws and planes.

"It is a passion and if you ask me to stop doing it, it would be like asking me to stop breathing," said McAuley, the owner of Oculus Fine Carpentry in Portland.

"She is recognized as the top expert in historic window restoration," Meyers said.

McAuley said windows are the gateway to the soul of a building, and projects like this one here at the Armory are right up her alley.

"So I want to try and match the graining as much as possible," said McAuley as she illustrates a repair called a Dutchman Patch.

She works to match the grain of the new wood with the wood in the old sash from 80 years ago for a lasting repair.    

McAuley said her family's history in the military, with many veterans, gives this job extra meaning.

"To get an opportunity, to kind of give back to all those soldiers that have come through here is a great honor," she said. "It's hallowed ground, this building."