One of my favorite features of our 1844 home are the embrasured shutters, which are solid wood shutters that fold into pockets built into the window jamb. During the day they allow for unobstructed views and unencumbered light, and at night they block all light as well as some street noise and cold.
Embrasured shutters or pocket shutters were popular in Virginia and up the East Coast in the 18th and 19th centuries. The brick homes of this period were solid brick rather than brick veneer and wall depth often exceeded 12 to 14 inches. This afforded a deep window jamb in which to store the shutters when they were hinged in the open position. The jambs were actually built with a pocket or embrasure to store the shutters so that they were almost undetectable when open. At night the shutters would fold across the window for privacy, security against potential intruders, and insulation from the elements.
The embrasured shutters of this period were of two designs: raised panel or raised panel flanks combined with operable louver inner panels, commonly referred to as “Brownstone” shutters. The combination of the two shutter types allowed for some light from the operable louvers when the shutters were closed. The shutters were commonly installed double hung or in two sets, one set for the top sash and one set for the bottom sash. This allowed the top shutters to hinge open while the lower half remained closed across the window.
Embrasured or pocket shutters can be added to new homes built in the style of Old Virginia. Built-in bookcases or cabinetry on either side of the window can be used as a deep jamb, allowing a skillful carpenter to recreate the look of Old Virginia embrasured shutters.