Jalousie windows — the louvered glass panels often seen in storm doors, enclosed porches or breezeways — are a common feature of mid-century homes, especially in warmer climates. Typically installed to enclose outdoor areas like porches, jalousie windows are also found in areas of the home in need more light and ventilation. In midcentury America — days when central air conditioning was not common — these windows allowed summer breezes pass through freely — and no metal cross braces meant that views were unobstructed.
We think there are good reasons to consider saving — or adding jalousie windows — hence, they made our list of the top ten most endangered features of mid century homes.
Important Note: Please check local building and fire safety codes about jalousie window safety requirements. For example, there is such as thing as egress standards aka emergency egress standards or codes — approved / mandated ways that must be in place to help escape from rooms in case of a fire. Find out from your local municipal professionals whether jalousie windows meet these standards given your planned application. Readers also have pointed out that these window may not be particularly energy efficient, and that they may be easier for burglars to breach. I am not the expert — consult with properly licensed professionals to determine whether and how to use these windows safely.
Before diving into the pros and cons of Jalousie windows, Pam and I first did some digging to find out where the word came from. The research that seems to make the most sense to us is this short discussion on the Eggcorn Forum. Basically, it says that the word ‘jalousie’ started from the Italian ‘gelosias’ — a trellis with wood or iron panels to protect one’s privacy. The word ‘gelosias’ means ‘jealousy’ — as in using the shades to jealously guard the privacy of a home. The similar French translation ‘celosias’ also has a subtle meaning ‘sun-blind’ related to the concept of jealousy, the eggcornians say.
And hmmm, this eggcorn group also jumps to a discussion of why we call metal horizontal blinds “Venetian” blinds. But they are just playing with words — we are not meant to take the word “Venusian” seriously. Pam’s survey of the www seems to suggest (1) a lot of conjecture mostly centered around the idea that (2) Venetians [people from Venice] propelled the popularity of this type of blind, which had been around in some form or another for hundreds of years — numerous civilizations’ solution, using vernacular materials, to keeping the sun — and prying eyes — out of their homes.
Thinking about the way the slats are designed, Jalousie windows and Venetian blinds really are the exact same concept — jalousies are just fixed, while Venetians are portable.
- Wikipedia says, “A patent for a louvered window was applied for in the US in 1900 and patented Nov. 26, 1901. Patent # 687705 by Joseph W. Walker, of Malden, Massachusetts.”
- Merriam-Webster says the first known use of this term (for windows, we guess) was 1766.
This whole little journey into language started first with — pictures. Poking around archive.org a while back, I found this collection of information and advertising for Ludman Jalouises. Back in 1950 when these brochures were published, Jalousie windows were labeled as cutting-edge technology — even if the concept had been around for hundreds of years. The caption in one illustration reads:
Don’t be old fashioned — the Jalousie window has proven to be the most versatile and functional window yet designed for new construction or replacements of old windows in porches, homes, breezeways, etc. Vent Vue is the product of years of precision engineering and advanced manufacturing “know how.” Available in clear, obscure and heat resistant Solex glass.
These Ludman Jalousie windows also came with inside screens and outside storms that allowed for three-season use. For doors, there also is a mention of a combination storm and screen.
And, there is mention of wood slats (rather than glass) as a choice.
Jalousie windows were advertised as part of the house of the future. Heck even the Joneses — that family that everyone else was trying to keep up with — caused a stir in their neighborhood when they installed this amazing new product. The ad above reads:
What’s all the excitement on 12th St.? Ludman Windo Tite Jalousies have transformed the Jones’ front porch! That new look! Attractive and eye-catching…as trim and clean-lined as an artist’s drawing of a prize winning home! All because the Joneses are keeping up with the world. They’re living in brighter beauty with new Windo Tite Jalouises. You can keep up with the Joneses…and enjoy a whole new era of comfort. Fresh air all of the time, even when it rains…and the airy luxury of outdoor living indoors, which full privacy and security.
Like most home construction materials, Jalousie windows have continued to advance in design, efficiency, and security. If you are considering adding new Jalousie windows to your home, it is important to take into consideration your climate, expectations for the space and security features. Check local building codes, too.
Below are several sources for Jalousie windows today:
- Milgard Windows — Tuscany® Series Jalousie Window
- Tafco Jalousie Windows
- Coastal Windows — 500 Series High Performance Jalousie windows
- Breezeway Louvered windows — in two styles: Altair® and Palmair®. Breezeway has been designing and manufacturing jalousie windows since the 1947.
- The Burch Company — in business since 1924 — manufactures jalousie windows and storm doors with jalousie windows, too.
Mega thanks to archive.org and the MBJ Collection for making this vintage catalog available.
Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image: