Many eons ago, far across the Atlantic Ocean, some ancient Greeks had a brilliant idea. Like all brilliant ideas, we imagine it came to them after staring at the Sun, or finally seeing the Sun after hours of philosophical debate. In the age of antiquity, your fabulous Mediterranean home didn’t have any glass windows or electric bulbs (though you had some excellent figs and olive oil). Any light in your home was controlled mostly through skylights, or clothes gently swaying over windows. Then it occurred, like a thought beamed down by Apollo or Hermes, “Shutters!”
With all the marble they had on hand, those Greeks went straight to work, etching out the first ancient plantation shutters. Since everything was hand-made and artisanal in those days, their ancient shutters were probably gorgeous. Beyond aesthetics, they had a more practical side as well; regulating light, ventilation, and insulation indoors. Before long, those wily Greeks realized that marble, while durable and beautiful, was too bulky and expensive to cover every window in their homes. On those proto Jersey Shores, window treatments soon dropped marble for wood.
As the centuries passed, and civilizations rose and fell, shutters stayed in vogue. By the Middle Ages, the French had taken up the torch of window treatment and invented the movable louver. As far as innovations go, the louver (meaning, “to coil up”) was huge—so huge that King Louis XIV (pre-Bastille Day) demanded that they adorn the windows of his private residence. Once a French King had them, all of Europe had to install their own shutters, too. Up and down a city’s streets, the slits of louvers could be glimpsed, like scales on a snake.
The American Age
By the 18th and 19th centuries, and the founding of the United States, shutters finally arrived in our neck of the woods. With its French influences, it was only natural that shutters were adopted as readily as they were in the American South. Once plantation owners dubbed and fit them into their homes and estates, shutters became the craze they are to this day. Be it inside a Southern manor, or a mansion of the Jersey Shore, plantation shutters will likely retain their popularity and charm for ages to come.