In October 2010, the Universalist Church of Rockland, ME conducted an extensive energy audit that identified leaky aluminum-clad windows in its sanctuary as a major cause of heat loss. In response, Richard Cadwgan, a friend of the Church, attended a workshop on the construction of insulating window inserts according to a design originated by Topher Belnap. Cadwgan built and donated twenty-six new inserts to the church shortly before Christmas 2010. The effect was a warmer church, lower heating bills, and reduced CO2 emissions.
The new inserts attracted the attention of parishioners who inquired whether they might work in their houses. In the following months, Cadwgan teamed up with former congregation president Frank Mundo to take orders for a total of 185 inserts, which they built in their basement workshops.
The following winter, the church offered the duo a short-term $2,000 inventory loan to be repaid from insert sales. Cadwgan and Mundo produced 1,231 inserts that season, repaid the loan, and developed the model and goals that continue to guide WindowDressers.
Equally important, they developed the concept of Community Builds. The idea originated on Islesboro, where Frank Mundo spearheaded the concept and oversaw the coordination required for measuring local homes and moving a truckload of frames and finishing supplies via ferry to the island. Enthusiastic island volunteers completed 275 inserts for 25 houses in a five-day workshop held at their Community Center – a rousing success that they duplicated in the following year and which the founders exported to other towns on the mainland.
Over the years, WindowDressers has continued its strong growth and development as a community-based nonprofit organization that supports dozens of Community Builds across Northern New England.