I’ve repaired countless antique double-hung windows and pocket doors over the decades but had never laid eyes on a pocket window until a few months ago, when I was hired to tune up the windows in an early 20th-century Dutch colonial. Those in the main part of the house were the typical double-hung variety that simply required smoothing and waxing friction surfaces, lubricating pulleys, and restringing a few sash weights to enable them to operate with the touch of a finger. The porch was a different story. It was enclosed by a dozen double-hung windows that looked exactly like the others … until I lifted one of the few operable sashes and watched it disappear completely into the wall above. Back when all 12 of these units worked properly, this ingenious design would have empowered the homeowners to transform their porch from indoor to outdoor space—or vice versa—within a minute. And what’s more: If uninvited pests flew in to spoil the party, drop-down insect screens (permanently housed in each overhead compartment) could have been deployed just as quickly.

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