Manassas Stone House - Wavy Glass

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

In Northern Virginia there are many places you can go to see old houses and buildings.  One defining feature common to all is that some windows still contain original glass.

How can you tell?  It is wavy or otherwise disturbed.  Walking through Mount Vernon and Monticello, and other such historical sites, when looking out the windows, it is easy to see which panes are original and which have been replaced over the years.

Glass is made by melting sand (silica) and mixing it with some form of flux, like soda ash, to reduce the melting temperature.  Then through an "annealing" process it was cooled slowly which eliminated stresses.  One technique was particularly popular when the Stone House was built.  It was called "cylinder glass."

Cylinder glass - also called muff or broad glass, was a blown sphere twisted into a sausage shape. The ends were removed and the resulting cylinder was split and flattened and cooled in the annealing oven. This process produced quite large sheets, approximately 2ft by 1ft, characterized by deformed, wavy lines and a rather dull finish from its contact with the annealing table.  Seldom completely flat, the slightly convex face was always pointed outwards to deflect high winds.

Such is the case in the Stone House at the Manassas Battlefield National Park.  It is one of three intact buildings which existed during the two battles there during the Civil War.

The Warrenton Turnpike (currently VA Route 29) was one of the first hard-surfaced roads in Northern Virginia during the second quarter of the 19th century and the heyday of what is called the "Turnpike Era."  A toll gate actually stood across the turnpike from the Stone House!

The house was owned by Henry P. and Jane Matthews from 1850 to 1865.  The Stone House, then called the Matthews House, was a very popular stopping point for wagon and horse travelers on the turnpike.  It boasted a "bar and grill!"

The wavy window you see is one pane in a window in the bar and grill room.  You are looking west toward Matthews Hill, where -

During First Bull Run Bee, Bartow and Evans took on Burnside, retreating to another hill on the opposite side of the turnpike.  At that hill Bee uttered the famous phrase that gave an unknown Virginia Confederate officer his famous nickname of "Stonewall."

During Second Bull Run "Stonewall" Jackson chased Porter and Reno over the hill, forcing them to retreat.

After Second Bull Run the Confederates actually used the Stone House to parole Union prisoners.  Who knows how many people have looked through the pane you are looking through now!  Perhaps even Stonewall Jackson himself.

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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I LOVE wavey glass * we actually have a good after market for this as older homes are remodeled...

May 28, 2010 11:51 PM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Actually there is Wallace, and various current manufacturers which have perfected the process and can create new "old" glass!  Those companies would not be in existence were it not for the market demand.

May 29, 2010 12:00 AM #2
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Jay,

A relative of mine, Custard S. Wallenda, was in the civil war but became more famoser afterwards.


Custard S. Wallenda

May 29, 2010 06:41 AM #3
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Nutsy - the Indians had a special name for him - believe it or not - it was Goldilocks.   He wasn't treated well the last time they met...

May 29, 2010 12:19 PM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jay, my house has funky old glass.  And whenever I think about getting new ones, I have to step back and look out.  It's pretty cool.

May 29, 2010 02:15 PM #5
Jay Lloyd
Cape Coral Florida - Cape Coral, FL
Allpro Home Inspection

Jay, I envy the architecture you get to inspect in your part of the country. Down here a house is old if it's 10 years old. I did get to inspect a 1920's brothel in our downtown area recently and it did have wavey glass. It was a 3 stories (again, unusual in these parts), and an interesting place to inspect. jay

May 29, 2010 02:45 PM #6
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Pat - your house must be built before the 30's.  The process I describe above was used for home construction until the 30's when it was replaced by a cheaper, quicker process.  I wouldn't replace those panes!

Jay - I have never inspected one of those!  And your building is in the time frame for this kind of glass manufacture too!

May 30, 2010 12:06 AM #7
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Wavey glass has great character....we have some in s stained glass transom over our front door...come on over and take a peak....takes out all the wrinkles ! :)

May 30, 2010 04:06 PM #8
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I think stained glass really sets off a house Sally.  Have a great holiday!

May 31, 2010 01:53 AM #9
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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