Turning a Diamond into a Rhinestone

A few blocks form the Cross House is the main corner of downtown Emporia. One of my favorite buildings sits on the NE corner, a jewel box of a bank.


The bank is all cut stone (yummy!) and featured enormous and highly detailed steel windows.


The windows were highly architectural. They had a lot of depth, detail, and were a delight to the eye. But these gorgeous things of beauty…


…have now all been replaced with…these. The new windows are flat and offer none of the robust delight of the original windows.


Instead of complementing the stone structure, the new windows dramatically alter its appearance. The left window, with its replacement, now appear too large. Too much. Like a gaping maw. All the windows have now been replaced and the dignity and elegance of the building has been lost.


Steel windows are often casually discarded. This is unfortunate as they can be restored and often for less than replacement windows. Here is a typical old steel window. It don’t look good. But…


….THIS is gorgeous. All these example images are from Seekircher Steel Windows.


A steel window in poor condition, and single piece of huge non-original glass, were…




No matter how bad things might look…


…it is rare that a restoration isn’t possible.






Kelly, of the fabulous Old House Dreams, recently posted a 1930s house with steel windows. I will be very surprised if the new owner, with nary a thought, does not rip out these windows which are are a vital component to the period charm of the house.




After. G O R G E O U S!


The particularly tragic thing about the bank’s new windows is that they will have a lifespan of about 15 years.

The original windows lasted for a century. And, had they been restored, would have lasted for another century.

On the Cross House, I am restoring the original 123-year-old wood windows. They, too, should still be around in 2140.





  1. Kelly D on October 31, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Freaking hell. I was thinking “WOW! That bank window is a thing of beauty!!! Art indeed!” Then I scrolled down more…I tend to cuss when I’m irritated but will hold my fingers…so nuts in a bag! The replacement is awful. I wonder what they did with the old one (ones?)?

  2. Derek on October 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Man, I really don’t get it. You would think they would look at that first window and slam on the brakes. Wow.

  3. Jonathan W on October 31, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    The fact that they don’t even try to replicate the look of the old windows is what hurts so much to me.

    They went from the classical, fancy(but not overboard)look, to a minimalist modern abomination on a classical building. I hope they’ve kept the old windows in storage or at least the old ones have been meticulously documented for future restoration. Perhaps in time the photos you’ve taken will be of use in future.

  4. Jonathan W on October 31, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    On another note. If I ever were to buy a home, or build one… I would do it in this building’s style. With the smooth cut stones and small but beautiful elements, as well as those beautiful old windows. It’s everything I love of such buildings.

  5. Maurice Powers-turner on January 14, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    It really ticks me off when steel windows are trashed! They are really a thing of beauty!

    • Ross on January 14, 2018 at 10:00 pm


  6. Kelly P. on March 12, 2018 at 11:06 am

    New yuck. Old beautiful.

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