Shutters: Ancient Idea, New Eco Form
This past weekend, we benefited from the ancient, now deemed eco-friendly apparatus, the shutter. It provided us with great relief in the tropical August heat of New Orleans.
Shutters shelter our rooms from the elements. They have the added advantage of providing a sense of protection from the cares of the outside world. I think there is a romantic feeing in a shuttered room.
Shutters were first introduced in America in the 18th century. The architectural and decorative arts historian Betsy Garret offers this discription in her book "At Home:"
"Out on the street, the stifling heat of summer was intensified by a relentless sun reflecting off brick facades. Closed Venetian shutters might offer cool refuge within. First advertised in American newspapers in the mid-1700s, slatted shutters had become univeral by the mid-1800s. For they protected household furnishings from the effects of the sunlight; they discouraged the free entry of flies and mosquitoes; they screened out the dust and sand that blew about the streets; they enhanced privacy; and they promoted summer comfort."
In the late 19th century, shutters were seemingly doomed for by the use of large plate glass windows which were too big for tradional shutters. Imitations nailed to buildings for mere decoration also became popular, blighting the shutters good name.
Now, in this green age, old fashioned shutters and modern examples can be found performing the same ancient purpose.
Images from top: Broadway, New York City, watercolor attributed to Nicolino Calyo; image of sliding shutters for a “Glidehouse,” a prefabricated house designed by Michele Kaufman; view of St. Peter Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, photo by Kerri McCaffety; exterior in Ribersborg, Malmo, Sweden; Thomas Jayne at his New Orleans place, photo by Kerri McCaffety.