Rebuilding a Stucco Window Box Photo Collection

Rebuilding a Stucco Window Box Photo Collection

by Tim Counts

If you, like me, look at bungalows when traveling outside the Twin Cities, you’ve probably noticed regional differences. For example, the classic Chicago bungalow is built of brick with the front porch tucked under the roof to one side. California bungalows are fanciful; have wide open porches; and are sided with wood.

Here in the Twin Cites, typical bungalows are modest, have enclosed front porches, and are often sided with stucco. And many of those stucco bungalows have a rare feature: a stucco window box. I’ve observed bungalows in many parts of the country, and I don’t recall seeing a stucco window box anywhere but here.

As an unusual—perhaps unique—feature of our bungalows, they deserve to be preserved. And though they’ve held up well, especially for an architectural appendage, most of them need help.

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1. My bungalow, built in 1926 in a vaguely Spanish style.

2. My home’s original stucco window box, though still attached to the house, had decayed.

3. A previous owner had used a 1945 license plate to reinforce the box’s wood substructure. And on the face of the box, a metal plate had been used to span a crack in the stucco.

4. Workers in the final stages of removing the window box.

5. Once the box had been removed, workers patched two spots of rotted wood.

6. The old window box came off in intact pieces. The stucco was imbedded in metal mesh lath and was still sturdy, even after 82 years.

7. The box’s original metal liner, the bottom portion of which had long since rusted away, exposing the wood underneath to moisture.

8. A worker covers the home’s wood siding boards with tarpaper.

9. The new window box is framed in wood.

10. The wood frame of the new box is wrapped in tarpaper.

11. The new box is encased in wire mesh lath. Wet cement will be pressed into the wire, firmly binding it to the box.



14. The new widow box was built without a bottom. Cedar boards will be laid across the brackets, and planters or flowerpots will rest on them. This method will prevent moisture from standing inside the box and eventually rotting it.

15. The new window box with the first layers of cement.


17. The completed window box. The workers tell me it will gradually darken over the course of a year or so.

18. A bungalow in south Minneapolis with a new window box.

19. Close-up of a new window box on a south Minneapolis bungalow.

20. Another Minneapolis house with a new window box.

21. Close-up of a new window box on a Minneapolis house.