Liberty Revival Historic Door & Window restores iconic landmarks in Boston and beyond
When people envision Boston, their thoughts often turn to the city’s amazing buildings.
After all, Boston is considered the birthplace of the American Revolution and walking through some of its neighborhoods can feel like you’re entering an architectural time capsule.
So, it makes sense that a firm would specialize in restoring the doors and windows of the older, often iconic or historically significant landmarks.
That’s the mission of Liberty Revival Historic Door & Window (Liberty), which does work in locations such as the Beacon Street Historic District, Boston’s South End and other neighboring Massachusetts communities, such as Marlborough and Salem. Its team members also travel to Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island to work their magic.
Based in North Reading, Massachusetts, Liberty is owned by James Maccario, who started the company in 2001. He was a stock trader in Boston and decided he wanted to get out of what he termed the “Wolf of Wall Street” lifestyle, referring to the 2013 film that focuses on the evil that can consume people with too much money and power.
“I ran a couple of trading rooms, and as things turned, and the world changed, I decided to do something that was more of a passion than a career,” Maccario recalls. “What I do now has always been a passion. I’ve always worked with my hands, whether it be home projects or projects for friends.”
When Maccario started his business, it was initially called Liberty Builders & Custom Carpentry. It worked on several different types of interior and exterior projects. But about six years ago, he decided to switch to a niche and zero in on the doors and windows of historic buildings as well as older properties with distinctive architectural styles. That’s when Maccario also changed the name of the firm.
Relishing the Challenge
As Liberty gained projects around the Boston metropolitan area, Maccario saw that windows and door frames on historical buildings generally needed the extra care that could truly support a full-time enterprise.
“There’s no such thing as a standard historic door or window,” he says.
When a large chunk of buildings and neighborhoods in the Boston area were built hundreds of years ago, there was not the standardization that is seen in designing today’s windows, doors and their frames. Nowadays, most of them are manufactured on robotics-assisted production lines.
Maccario customizes glass and frame sizes to fit those one-of-a-kind architectural landmarks. He gives intense attention to detail regarding the specific dimensions used generations back, and Liberty employees cut glass to fit the odd and often inconsistent window shapes and dimensions.
The work sometimes also involves finding specific windows, such as bowed windows, which some customers request.
“Bowed windows are probably the coolest thing we do,” Maccario says. “You can’t buy a bowed window off a production line. We buy bowed glass, so our clients have an actual bowed window. You won’t see that in many homes.”
Though he admits that the work is not easy, due to the lack of standardization, Maccario says that aspect of the business drives the Liberty team.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that we build doors and windows from scratch,” he says. “Some people would find it laborious, but I don’t think that at all.”
Quality Counts—Especially in a $10 Million Home
Maccario says many home and business owners—and carpenters, for that matter—assume they can tackle window or door projects on these types of unique structures, but the results aren’t always fruitful.
“The unfortunate thing about carpentry is that a lot of people feel, if they have a hammer and a saw, they’re carpenters,” Maccario says. “This is more craftsmanship than it is carpentry. It’s very precise. Every window must be built by hand. It’s not something coming off the line. Each piece is cut to fit.”
And as the housing and commercial prices in Boston have risen tremendously in the past decade, especially in historic areas, owners have found that do-it-yourself jobs aren’t going to get the work completed properly. Liberty works on properties that, in some cases, sell for well over $10 million.
“Twenty years ago in Boston, you would never expect to see an $80,000-per-unit price tag for a condo. Now you get $1 million per unit,” Maccario reflects. “It’s crazy.”
Plus, with COVID-19, he points out, more property owners are spending additional money on their homes because they aren’t traveling as much.
Those dollars, mixed with Maccario’s passion for the job, drives him to have high expectations for his six employees.
“One of my qualifications is that employees need to love what they do,” he says. “Something that normally takes 30 minutes can sometimes takes three hours on these custom jobs. I tell them that I don’t care how long it takes, but I want it absolutely done right.”
Though Maccario expects a lot from the Liberty team, he tries to give back to them, as well as to the Boston community in general.
He is a supporter of Black Lives Matter, but also says that he has two sons-in-law who are police officers and he understands the difficulties of law enforcement work. Maccario keeps $10 Dunkin’ gift cards in his work truck that he gives to police officers on duty.
“I say, ‘Thank you and stay safe,’ ” he says.
Maccario also has a policy where he does not limit the number of sick days an employee can take every year. He understands that employees need personal time to take care of both themselves and their family members.
“You get out of it what you put in,” Maccario says. “I trust them, train them and treat them as family, and they treat me like family too.”
The Liberty owner says that he takes pride in not having any layoffs during the nearly 20 years the firm has been in business.
“I have managed to make things work through all of the downturns, and I’ve not had to really let anybody go,” Maccario says. “We’ve always been able to manage.”
Liberty also donates time and materials to Habitat for Humanity projects, and other housing endeavors, to help those in need in the Boston area. After all, it’s not just the high-dollar clients who need door and window improvements.
Maccario is also immensely proud of the work he has done in the Boston area’s many historic districts. For example, his firm replaced windows at the Algonquin Club, which opened in 1886, and can point to many projects around Faneuil Hall Marketplace requiring the master craftsmanship of the Liberty team. He also takes delight in recalling the time when Liberty replaced the windows at Union Oyster House, which was founded in 1826. Ironically, during his days as a trader, he used to wine and dine clients at that establishment. “I always used to say to my wife, ‘I can make $50,000 a day at trading, but when I leave, there is nothing left behind to say I did that,’ ” Maccario recalls. “Now, it’s just the opposite. Doing what you love has value. I get up every day and get excited about coming to work. How many people are fortunate enough to do that?”
One can count the area around Faneuil Hall where he has done much of his work, which is one of the most historic hot spots in Boston, and Maccario sees Liberty helping that history evolve.