Pieces of History

A home built in 1879. A hotel built in 1902. An industrial site that produced destroyers during World War II. What do these sites have in common? Roofs that stood the test of time, and then were recently restored with modern systems that preserve the historic integrity of the structures.

If you’re a bit of a pessimist, sometimes you might find yourself wondering how any roof gets successfully replaced. Re-roofing involves a coordinated effort that typically includes manufacturers, distributors, contractors and installation crews. Factor in architects, consultants, building owners, tenants, and members of other trades, and the odds of pleasing everyone increase exponentially. When you’re talking about a historic restoration project, the degree of difficulty gets even tougher, as historical societies and other organizations can have rigid standards designed to guarantee the building maintains its historic authenticity.

Historic projects can show the roofing industry at its best, and in this issue, you’ll find three case studies documenting roofs being restored on structures that have been around well over a century.

When the original soldered flat-panel roof on the historic Dilley-Tinnin home in Georgetown, Texas was damaged by lightning, crews from Texas Traditions Roofing were faced with a difficult, labor-intensive puzzle as they installed a double-lock standing seam roof system on multiple intersecting roof planes with low-slope transitions.

On the Chippewa Hotel on Mackinac Island, the Bloxsom Roofing faced a challenging re-roofing project and also found themselves facing turn-of-the-century problems on an island that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles. The roofing materials were delivered by ferry and transported to the jobsite by a team of horses.

At historic Pier 70 in San Francisco, an ambitious restoration project converted an empty industrial facility into a modern office complex. But ensuring occupant comfort proved a difficult task in a building without air conditioning. Central Coating Company devised a plan to install a spray foam roofing system on the uninsulated metal roof to minimize heat gain and ensure the historic look of the building.

These stories share common themes, including the importance of quality craftsmanship, then and now. In the case of Pier 70, Central Coating Company President Luke Nolan points out that aside from a few persistent leaks, the original corrugated metal roof was in pretty good shape.

“For us as a foam roofing contractor, we typically do roofing projects that have the benefit of adding insulation to the building,” Nolan said. “This one was different in that we were doing a foam roofing project that was really an insulation job.”

About Chris King

Chris King is the editor in chief of Roofing magazine. He has covered the construction industry for more than 20 years, previously serving as editor of Roofing Contractor, managing editor of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, and associate editor of Plumbing & Mechanical. He can be reached by email at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

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