Making a Difference

Amy McAuley

Amy McAuley dabbled in politics and retail and worked as a stagehand before she discovered carpentry. The 39-year-old Portland, Ore., resident started her own business, Oculus Fine Carpentry, in 2003. While working on her first preservation project—the c. 1856 Alvin T. Smith House in Forest Grove, Ore.—she restored all the ­windows. McAuley found the experience so fulfilling that she sold her power tools and decided to specialize in historic window restoration. It didn't take long for new customers to find her: "People looking to restore historic windows would tell me, 'Nobody here does it; can you help?'"

Using handsaws, backsaws, and other hand tools, McAuley has since fabricated new window sashes and repaired window rot and loose joints in barns, lighthouses, and other structures. She even helped persuade the Salem Historic Landmarks Commission to save the original windows in the 1883 Oregon State Hospital instead of replacing them. "I think the public takes for granted the history that's wrapped up in historic windows," says McAuley, who has started teaching a growing number of craftspeople at workshops. "As long as my body can keep up with it," she says, "I want to do this forever."

For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.