Fans and Community Rally to Replace Barrel Roof at Roadside America

Crews from Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling battled winter weather to install a new fully adhered EPDM roofing system from Mule-Hide Products Co.

Crews from Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling battled winter weather to install a new fully adhered EPDM roofing system from Mule-Hide Products Co. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

Lovingly and meticulously crafted over a period of more than 60 years, the 6,000-square-foot display of miniature villages at Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, has been featured on the HISTORY channel and in such books as “1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz and “Weird Pennsylvania” by Matt Lake. To area families, however, the museum is more than just a funky tourist attraction. It is a treasure that has been shared by four generations—one that must be passed on to future generations.

So, when the building’s nearly 65-year-old barrel roof began to fail, threatening to shutter the museum and put its gems in storage for good, the community and fans far and wide rallied. Nearly $80,000 was raised, roofing crews worked in between winter storms, and a new EPDM roofing system was installed to protect the masterpiece below.

A Life’s Work

Dubbed “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village,” the display at Roadside America is the life’s work of its sole creator, Laurence Gieringer. Fascinated by miniatures from an early age, he made the first piece in 1902 and continued expanding the collection until his death in 1963. The result is a breathtaking snapshot of American rural life spanning more than 200 years, from a frontier town with saloons and horse-drawn wagons and carriages to a 1950s Main Street with a movie theater and tail-finned Chevys. The collection includes 300 hand-built structures, 600 miniature light bulbs, 4,000 tiny figurines, 10,000 hand-made trees, working model railroads and trolleys, moving waterways, wall paintings, and replicas of such landmarks as Mount Rushmore, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and Henry Ford’s original shop in Dearborn, Mich. The twice-hourly patriotic “Night Pageant” features an illuminated Statue of Liberty and the playing of America’s national anthem and Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America.”

Originally housed in the basement of Gieringer’s childhood home and later in the carousel building of an abandoned amusement park, Roadside America moved to its current home in 1953. Still a family business, it is now owned by Gieringer’s granddaughter Dolores Heinsohn, and operated by his great-granddaughter Bettina Heinsohn and her husband Brian Hilbert.

A Preservation Mission

A carpenter by trade, Gieringer fabricated the rafters for the museum’s 80-square-foot-by-123-square-foot barrel roof

Years of water penetration had damaged the existing roof, and a complete tear-off and replacement was in order. The original rafters and roof deck were sound.

Years of water penetration had damaged the existing roof, and a complete tear-off and replacement was in order. The original rafters and roof deck were sound. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

himself. In 2016—63 years later—they and the original wood plank deck were still in place. According to Carl Rost, general manager of contractor Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling Inc. of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, the hot-mop-down tar roof had been coated “20 times more than it should have been.” Time and weather had taken their toll. A severe snowstorm in January 2016 brought wind and tree damage. Consistent rain would cause leaks into the attic, with water sometimes dripping to the show floor below.

An elaborate water collection and removal system was created to protect the priceless miniatures. Buckets were placed in the exhibit and items moved whenever water started dripping to the show floor. Tarps—22-feet-by-22-feet—were hung in the attic, zig-zagging through the space to catch water and funnel it into 55-gallon barrels, which were then emptied by pumps.

Supporters Rally

While the patches and stopgap measures had done their job, they clearly were not a permanent solution. A new roof—and a major fundraising effort to pay for it—were needed.

Even with Bachman’s Roofing and the teams at roofing system manufacturer Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc. and the Reading, Pennsylvania, branch of building materials distributor ABC Supply working to keep costs as low as possible, the new roof would cost $80,000. Roadside America launched a GoFundMe.com campaign, raising nearly $19,000. Two anonymous donors contributed the remaining $60,000.

For many supporters, including Bachman’s Roofing Owner and President Eric Bachman and ABC Supply Branch Manager Jeff Smith, helping Roadside America was a matter of ensuring that a family tradition spanning four generations lives on. Their parents had brought them to the museum as children. They, in turn, took their kids, who are now sharing it with their families.

There was no question about helping Roadside America, Rost says. “Eric met with Brian and, within minutes, told him ‘We have to make this work.’”

EPDM Roofing System Selected

A 60-mil EPDM roofing system was chosen for its ease of installation on a barrel roof, its durability and its cost-effectiveness.

After the original roof system was removed, fiberboard insulation boards were fastened to the existing deck with screws and plates. The EPDM membrane was fully adhered using a fast-drying, freeze-resistant, low-VOC bonding adhesive. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

The original plan was to recover the existing roof, reducing costs and, with winter weather at hand, allowing the crew to get the job done as quickly as possible. Once work began, however, the damage caused by years of water penetration was evident and the job switched to a complete tear-off and replacement.

EPDM roofing systems are common in Berks County, where Shartlesville is located. The membrane’s ease of installation on a barrel roof reinforced the choice to use it on Roadside America’s building.

“We’ve done quite a few barrel roofs and have found that EPDM works best,” Rost says.

Roofing membranes have “memories,” he explains. Rolled tightly for shipping, they want to snap back to that state when laid out on the jobsite. They must be given sufficient time to flatten out prior to installation, or wrinkling can occur. EPDM membranes “relax” much more quickly than other membranes do, particularly in the cold temperatures that the Bachman’s Roofing crew would be working in. The membrane also remains flexible in hot and cold temperatures, enabling it to be easily curved over the barrel roof’s rafters.

“We knew that EPDM would give us a fast, wrinkle-free installation,” Rost says.

EPDM also is less slippery than other membranes, points out Rob Keating, territory manager with Mule-Hide Products, helping ensure that snow will not slide off the curved roof, potentially injuring a museum guest or employee walking below. A snow rail manufactured by Alpine Snow Guards was specified and installed to alleviate previous issues with snow and ice sliding down the roof and damaging an air conditioning compressor.

A black membrane was chosen for its lower cost and because, with eastern Pennsylvania having more heating days than cooling days, it could help the museum manage its heating costs, Rost says. A 60-mil membrane was selected for its durability and long expected lifecycle, he adds, helping the museum reduce its ongoing maintenance costs and prolong the day when re-roofing would again be required.

The rafters—made of one-by-twos, one-by-fours, one-by-sixes, one-by-eights, one-by-tens and one-by-twelves to create the roof’s barrel shape—were still sound.

Fiberboard insulation boards were fastened to the existing deck boards with screws and plates. To accommodate the roof’s irregular shape and the cold temperatures, the EPDM membrane was fully adhered using a fast-drying, freeze-resistant, low-VOC bonding adhesive.

In addition to the barrel roof, the crew replaced an existing 625-square-foot low-slope section of EPDM roofing on one side of the building’s front.

Working Around Winter Weather

January and February bring snow, sleet, ice and wind to Shartlesville—certainly not ideal conditions in which to undertake a re-roofing project. Despite unfavorable weather forecasts, the Bachman’s Roofing crew began work as soon as the necessary funds had been raised and Roadside America gave the green light.

Roadside America is dubbed “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village.” On display at the museum are more than 300 hand-built structures, 600 miniature light bulbs, 4,000 tiny figurines, and 10,000 hand-made trees, as well as working model railroads and trolleys. Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.

“The displays inside are priceless, and if they were damaged by water they couldn’t be replaced,” Rost says. “So, we said we’d work through the bad weather, taking time off as necessary.”

Work began on January 9, 2017. Thanks to some interference by Mother Nature, what normally would have been a one- or two-week job took six weeks. A crew of 10 completed the tear-off and eight professionals installed the new roofing system.

“Our crew endured,” Rost says. “One morning they called to tell me that they wouldn’t be able to work that day. I said ‘The storm went through last night. What’s the deal?’ They said that the parking lot was a sheet of ice. I had to see for myself, so I drove out there. The moment I got out of the car, I fell onto the completely iced-over parking lot.”

Given the roof’s slope, extra attention was paid to safety. Crew members worked carefully, without rushing—particularly when working along the roof’s steep edges. Everyone was harnessed while on the roof and followed all other relevant safety regulations. Rost and the firm’s safety inspector spent extra time monitoring the jobsite.

Mission Accomplished

With the re-roofing project complete, the buckets, tarps, barrels and pumps that once kept Roadside America’s miniature villages dry have been put away. A spring, a summer and an early fall have come and gone, with no leaks. The museum has been saved.

Hilbert extended thanks to those who made it possible. “Without the generous support of so many donors, this project wouldn’t have happened,” he says. “Where do you find that these days?”

Rost adds, “Now future generations can come and enjoy what four generations of our families have already enjoyed.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling Inc., Wernersville, Pennsylvania, Bachmansroofing.com
Local Distributor: ABC Supply Co. Inc., Reading, Pennsylvania, ABCsupply.com

ROOFING MATERIALS

EPDM Membrane: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc., Mulehide.com
Low-VOC Bonding Adhesive: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.
Fiberboard Insulation: Continental Materials Inc., Continentalmaterials.com
Snow Guard: Alpine Snow Guards, Alpinesnowguards.com

Historic 1883 Barn Gets New Composite Slate Roof

This timber-framed Standard Pennsylvania-style barn was originally erected in 1883. When its slate roof deteriorated beyond repair, it was replaced with a synthetic slate roof manufactured by DaVinci Roofscapes and installed by Absolute Roofing.

This timber-framed Standard Pennsylvania-style barn was originally erected in 1883. When its slate roof deteriorated beyond repair, it was replaced with a synthetic slate roof manufactured by DaVinci Roofscapes and installed by Absolute Roofing. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

Back in 1883, a timber-framed Standard Pennsylvania-style barn was constructed with a real slate roof on the homestead of the Hartong family, located in the City of Green, Ohio. After more than a century of service, the worn-out slate roof—and the rotting wood structural support system beneath it—have finally received a facelift.

“The structure was deteriorated beyond repair and had been leaking enough to also adversely affect the wood batten nailers,” says architect Chas Schreckenberger, AIA and principal of Braun & Steidl Architects. “Because this was a historic structure, our first choice was to replicate the original slate. When costs wouldn’t allow that, we investigated more economical slate alternatives.

“After reviewing all our choices, it was easy to make the selection of a DaVinci Roofscapes Single-Width composite slate roof. The appearance of the synthetic slate, its lightweight composition, affordability and durability all made it the obvious choice for this project.”

The next step required gaining approval on the roofing choice by the City of Green, which owns the structure, and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, which awarded a grant to finance the roof’s replacement. Once approval was received, the project started. Christian & Son Inc. was brought in to replace the rotting timbers, and Absolute Roofing and Construction Inc. started the roof installation.

“The DaVinci slate tiles we specified enabled us to retain the historic character of the barn, even to the point of recreating the large ‘1883’ date on the roof,” says Schreckenberger. “The final outcome exceeded our expectations and everyone involved is extremely happy with the results.”

Roofer’s Perspective

The challenge of recreating the 1883 date on the roof, plus detailing the entire roofing job for the Hartong barn, required a great deal of collaboration between the team at Absolute Roofing and Braun & Steidl Architects. Started in the spring of 2016, from start to finish, the roof frame reconstruction and tile installation took about six months.

The 45-foot by 90-foot timber-framed barn is part of the Levi J. Hartong homestead, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

The 45-foot by 90-foot timber-framed barn is part of the Levi J. Hartong homestead, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

“There were two significant challenges in this project,” says Chris Kamis, president of Absolute Roofing. “First, we were working alongside the framing team to make sure the structure was secure and ready for the roof installation. Second, we had to configure the 1883 date carefully.”

Recreating the numerals was a challenging task. “The DaVinci product was slightly different in dimension from the original slate, so it took several layouts to accurately recreate the date,” Kamis notes. “The original date on the roof had been very faded, so we had some guidelines. In the end, the roof looks terrific with the 1883 date in Evergreen tile colors showing up beautifully against the Slate Black tile background.”

The completed roof project received the Contractor of the Year Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in 2016 in the commercial specialty category.

Historic Homestead

Recreating the 1883 date on the roof was a challenge, and it took several layouts to achieve the original look. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

Recreating the 1883 date on the roof was a challenge, and it took several layouts to achieve the original look. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

Reflective of the Pennsylvania German heritage of the Hartong family and the community in the 1880s, the 45-foot by 90-foot timber-framed barn rests on a tooled sandstone foundation. Finished with vertical wood boards, the barn is part of the Levi J. Hartong homestead that includes a farmhouse, summer kitchen, milk house and other outbuildings.

“The city purchased the property more than a decade ago and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007,” says Sarah Haring, community development administrator for the City of Green in Ohio. “It’s located in the City of Green’s Southgate Park and since that time, the Summit County Mounted Unit has stabled their horses at the barn.

“The farmstead represents patterns in agriculture and architecture from the 19th century in our area. We’re excited to have the new roof overhead that so perfectly replicates what we believe the original roof looked like in 1883. The finished product is stunning and everyone, including visitors to the farmstead, are impressed with the look of the roof.”

TEAM

Architects: Braun & Steidl Architects, Akron, Ohio, BSA-net.com
Framing Contractor: Christian & Son Inc., Burbank, Ohio, Planexus.com
Roofing Contractor: Absolute Roofing and Construction Inc., Absoluteroofing.com

MATERIALS

Composite Slate Roof System: DaVinci Roofscapes, Davinciroofscapes.com

Project Profiles: Historic Preservation

CATHEDRAL OF ST. PAUL, BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

Team

ROOFING CONTRACTOR: Midland Engineering Co., South
Bend, Ind.
ARCHITECT: ArchitectureWorks LLP, Birmingham
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Hoar Construction LLC, Birmingham,
MASONRY CONTRACTOR: Ziolkowski Construction Inc., South Bend

The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles.

The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles.

Roof Materials

The Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham required the cathedral’s new roof system be a historically accurate reproduction of the original in materials, design and craftsmanship. The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles. Six large slate crosses and multiple accent patterns, barely visible on the faded original roof, required exacting measurements prior to tear-off and a high level of precision to recreate and maintain over such a large field and on octagonal steeples.

Because of metal thinning brought on by their advanced age, every copper architectural and functional feature in the existing roof system had to be carefully removed and shipped to Midland Engineering’s South Bend facility to be historically replicated in its metal shop. This included seven ornate crosses (up to 17-feet tall), finials, turret caps and more. There were more than four dozen components, for which no original prints existed, as well as over 500 feet each of custom copper cornices and radius gutters with matching straps. More than 20,000 square feet of 16- and 20-ounce copper was utilized for fabrication of architectural elements and flashing.

Midland Engineering was asked to make improvements to the original roof system to improve attic ventilation while maintaining the Gothic Revival period look. To accomplish this, the crew integrated bronze screen (invisible from the ground) into the original copper cornice and eave design to provide improved cold air intake while new louvered copper dormers replaced the original painted roof ventilator.

An updated lightning protection system was incorporated into the new roof design, hidden within many of the new copper crosses and other architectural elements. The system was fabricated in Midland Engineering’s shop to maintain the Gothic Revival look.

The metal shop also clad 10 previously painted windows and mullions in copper, effectively eliminating frequent and costly maintenance. These windows, reachable only by crane at considerable expense, formerly required painting and other maintenance every five to seven years.

About 6,500 square feet of lead-coated copper, which patinas to a limestone color, was utilized to cap all limestone exposed to weather, reducing ongoing maintenance of limestone joints.

Extensive termite damage to structural framing required repair prior to installation of the new roofing system. Upon removal of the original slate roof and completion of the structural repairs, the new roof was dried-in and installation of the new slate roof began. The historically accurate replacements of the original copper architectural features were installed according to schedule.

SLATE SUPPLIER: North Country Slate
COPPER SUPPLIER: Hussey Copper

Roof Report

The Cathedral of St. Paul is the centerpiece of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham. Completed in 1893 at a cost of $90,000, the cathedral is widely considered to be a handsome example of the American Neo-Gothic variant of the Gothic Revival style. The cathedral measures 96-feet wide by 140-feet long and encompasses more than 60,000 square feet. It features twin octagonal steeples, rising 183-feet high.

Work schedules on this project were a challenge. The contract required parishioner and clergy access to the church must be maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the eight-month duration of the project. Further, because of the noise inherent in roof construction, work schedules had to be planned around regular church services and events and rescheduled several times a month for funerals and other unscheduled events.

“We could not have been more pleased with the work accomplished by the team from Midland Engineering,” says Very Rev. Kevin M. Bazzel, V.G., J.C.L., rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul. “It is a marvel to us to be able to see the church in its original glory, and all of this thanks to Midland!”

The National Roofing Contractors Association, Rosemont, Ill., awarded Midland Engineering the prestigious Gold Circle Award in 2016. Midland was recognized in the Outstanding Workmanship—Steep-slope Category.

Photo: Rob Culpepper

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Carefully Select Roofing Materials to Maintain the Character of Historic Buildings

Selecting a historically appropriate roofing material is often restrictive as a simple matter of economy. Not everyone can afford a new slate roof. But individually landmarked structures and those in local historic districts are often monitored by historic district commissions (HDCs) that typically require property owners to replace in-kind or with an otherwise historically appropriate material.

Although the preference is replacement in-kind, an intelligent argument for an alternative can often be made. The HDC can consider other materials that were available at the time of construction, as well as what buildings of similar style in the community have on their roofs. A Queen Anne may have started with a polychromatic Vermont slate roof, but the commission can consider that nearby Queen Annes have monochromatic Monson slate or even cedar shingles. A Greek Revival may have a silver-coated tin roof, but few would argue with a homeowner willing to replace it with standing-seam copper. Let’s look at several American building styles and the materials used to roof them.

Colonial Styles, 1620 to 1780

From the New England Salt Box to the Dutch-vernacular homes of upstate New York, the earliest structures in the American colonies were roofed with wood shingles.

From the New England Salt Box to the Dutch-vernacular homes of upstate New York, the earliest structures in the American colonies were roofed with wood shingles.


From the New England Salt Box to the Dutch-vernacular homes of upstate New York, the earliest structures in the American colonies were roofed with wood shingles. It is a myth they were covered with hand-split shakes because these sometimes do not hold up well. Wood shingles were easily made by planing down the shakes to a uniform thickness for ease of installation.

In the Northeast, Eastern white cedar was the typical material used while cypress was often used in the South. Western red cedar was not used much in the eastern U.S. until after the 1850s and should not be considered appropriate on a circa-1820, Federal-style structure in Connecticut. Eastern white cedar, however, rarely lasts longer than 10 years in a roofing application. Instead, preservation architects now specify Alaskan yellow cedar. Predominantly distributed from British Columbia, this dense wood is favored because of its longevity and because it develops a silvery patina, like Eastern white cedar, within one year.

Federal and Neoclassical Styles, 1780 to 1820

Many of these buildings have low-slope roofs and are often obstructed by a balustrade that runs across the top of the eaves. In congested, urban environments, the roof may not even be visible from the street. This raises the obvious question: What needs to be done when an element of the exterior is not within the street view? Most HDCs use that standard question to limit their purview over a proposed alteration. If your roof falls into this category, then you should pick the most enduring and sustainable material you can afford.

These structures were not often originally covered in slate, though many are today. Original roofs were wooden shingles—less than ideal on a roof with a shallow pitch. In limited instances, standing-seam or flat-lock-seamed roofs are seen on these building styles. To find out what’s appropriate, check out roofs on structures of the same style in your neighborhood and neighboring communities.

The mansard roof is the character-defining feature of the Second Empire style. A mansard is essentially a hipped gambrel. The lower roof, between the eaves and upper cornice, is most often covered in slate.

The mansard roof is the character-defining feature of the Second Empire style. A mansard is essentially a hipped gambrel. The lower roof, between the eaves and upper cornice, is most often covered in slate.

Greek Revival, 1820-50

This style also features a low-slope roof, typically 4:12. Although the original roof material may have been wooden shingles, many of these roofs in the Northeast were replaced by a more sustainable material long ago. Flat-lock tin or terne-coated steel were typical from the late 1800s on. Because many of these structures also have box gutters at the eaves, keep in mind that relining these systems is costly and will need to tie in to the new roof material. (See “Traditional Gutter Systems in North America”, March/April issue, page 56, or bit.ly/1Mw7Qek.) It is not uncommon for an affordable membrane, like EPDM or TPO, to be used on the majority of the roof while a costlier appropriate material, like copper, covers the visible, projecting “porch” roof.

PHOTOS: Ward Hamilton

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Project Profiles: Historic Renovation

Maine State House Dome Restoration, Augusta, Maine

Team

COPPERSMITH: The Heritage Co., Waterboro, Maine
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Consigli Construction Co. Inc., Portland, Maine
ARCHITECT: LEO A DALY, Minneapolis
ENGINEER: Becker Structural Engineers, Portland

To remain proportional with the larger building, a new, higher copper-covered dome was built to replace the original cupola.

To remain proportional with the larger building, a new, higher copper-covered dome was built to replace the original cupola.

Roof Materials

Working 200 feet in the air on elaborate staging, carpenters, coppersmiths, engineers and other construction workers replaced more than 7,000 square feet of copper on the dome. The existing unique, curved copper components were carefully removed and saved to serve as models for the new components.

A full sheet-metal shop, consisting of an 8-foot brake, 52-inch jump shear and benches, was set up onsite at the 63-foot elevation mark, along with five cases of 20-ounce copper (about 12,880 pounds). Each copper component was carefully measured, cut and bent onsite, and then installed.

The compound curving components were made in The Heritage Co.’s “home” shop, using a shrinker/stretcher machine and an English wheel. Then, the copper was handformed over custom-made wood forms. Care was taken to exactly match the size and configuration of the existing components, as well as the seam layouts that were prevalent in the original copper work

Approximately 15 to 18 percent of the copper was waste because of the curved nature of many of the components. The waste was made into copper clip stock for the roof installation or recycled.

COPPER MANUFACTURER: Revere Copper Products Inc.
COPPER SUPPLIER: Beacon Sales Co.

Roof Report

The Maine State House was originally designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch in 1832. The dome was added in 1910 as part of a major remodeling and expansion project that ultimately created the building’s current appearance based on designs by G. Henri Desmond.

The original façade was preserved during remodeling, though the length of the building was doubled to 300 feet by extending the north and south wings. To remain proportional with the larger building, a new, higher copper-covered dome was built to replace the original cupola. The new dome rises to a height of 185 feet and is topped by a gold-clad copper statue, called “Lady Wisdom”, designed by W. Clark Noble.

Over time, weather damage and holes caused by hail strikes on the top of the dome caused leaks in the building. The seams between the copper sheets also caused problems for the underlying steel and concrete structure of the dome. The work included the installation of expansion joints, repairs to prevent water infiltration and restoration of the cupola (located between the top of the dome and Lady Wisdom), using a highly durable paint system. Lighting upgrades, copper repairs and the restoration of the gilded Lady Wisdom statue located atop the dome were also part of the project.

The dome’s structural system and framing were analyzed by Becker Structural Engineering one year in advance of dome construction, so Consigli Construction could create a 3-D model for staging to eliminate interior shoring.

Overall, this project restored one of Maine’s most significant historic landmark buildings, returning its signature copper dome and gilded Lady Wisdom sculpture to their original intended conditions.

PHOTO: Consigli Construction Co. Inc.

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