Expert Crew Is Called in for Copper Roof Restoration Project

The dome on the Bradford County Courthouse was restored with copper panels during the first phase of a $3 million renovation project. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

The octagonal dome atop the Bradford County Courthouse has been a fixture on the Towanda, Pennsylvania, skyline for more than 120 years. It now shines brightly after being restored with copper panels as part of a $3 million renovation project.

Built in the Classical and Renaissance revival styles in 1898, the four-story courthouse was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1987. The dome’s original roof tiles were recently replaced as part of the project, which also included the complete restoration of the structure’s main roof.

The Charles F. Evans Company Inc., the union division of Evans Roofing Company Inc., headquartered in Elmira, New York, has a long history of successfully tackling projects with historical significance. C&D Waterproofing Corp., the general contractor on the project, reached out to the firm for support assessing the roofing portion of the project. The two companies teamed up on the project, with C&D Waterproofing handling the masonry restoration work and Charles F. Evans Company installing the roof systems.

The roofing work consisted of two phases. Phase One, which began in April of 2016, involved replacing the deteriorated terracotta tiles on the dome with soldered flat seam copper panels. Phase Two, which began in April of 2017, involved installing batten seam copper roofing on main structure and new copper flashings, gutters and downspouts.

Safety First

Construction Manager Bill Burge of Charles F. Evans Company was thrilled to be part of this historic project. Before

Originally completed in 1898, the courthouse was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1987. The building’s main roof was removed and replaced with a copper batten seam roof after work on the dome was completed. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

concentrating on the installation details, he knew the company would focus on the top priority. “Safety is number one,” says Burge. “Safety comes before profits. Safety comes before everything. We always want to make sure we have the right safety plan going into the job, and throughout the job, we are maintaining that plan and working that plan. We want our guys to go home to their families at the end of the day, so that’s key for us.”

Burge worked as a union carpenter for 10 years before joining the company more than seven years ago. He found he had an affinity for sheet metal work. “The craftsmanship and quality goes hand in hand with carpentry,” Burge says. “Everything starts with the carpentry. You have to have your base perfect; otherwise, everything from there on out doesn’t work. Sheet metal is a finished product, typically, especially in our business, so things have to be done right. Things have to be done to the highest standard of quality, because that’s what people see.”

The dome was designed to be a showpiece, and Field Superintendent Brian Babcock and his crew of qualified union sheet metal mechanics knew they would be held to an exacting standard. “The key to this project and every project is our talented mechanics in the field,” Burge says. “Charles F. Evans Company is nothing without this talent—they deserve all of the credit.”

Around the Dome

Phase One began with the removal of the tiles on the dome. “The ceramic tile was laid over open steel purlins,” Burge notes.

Charles F. Evans Roofing Company handled the roofing portion of the project, while C&D Waterproofing Corp. served as the general contractor and performed masonry restoration work. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

“There was open framing with quarter-inch steel angle for the purlins, and each piece if tile was wired on. The removal process was fairly simple. You could actually lift up the bottom of the tile and snap it off.”

The removal work had to be done in sections and dried in every night. “One of the hardest things about this process was we had to install two layers of half-inch plywood over the steel purlins and anchor those down,” says Burge.

The plywood was attached to vertical two-by-fours, which were screwed into the purlins. The plywood was covered with one layer of Warrior 30-pound felt paper, Meadows Red Rosin Paper, and Grace Ultra High Temp underlayment in gutter areas.

The built-in gutter at the base of the dome was torn out and re-framed. The new gutter was wider and deeper according to the recommendation of Levine & Company Inc., the architect on the project. “We did everything to specification as Levine & Company drew it,” says Burge.

Once the cladding was completed on the gutter, the copper panels of the dome were installed. The 20-inch panels were made of 20-ounce, cold rolled copper, supplied by Revere Copper Products. Both the panels and cladding were fabricated in Charles F. Evans Company’s fabrication shop. The copper panels clip to each other and have a hem on four sides that clips

Custom flashing pieces were fabricated and installed where the copper roof panels met the base of the dome. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

to the adjacent panel fastened to the deck. At the top of each panel, a hook clips off to the plywood, and the hook is covered by the panel directly above it.

Burge points out that the octagonal structure of the dome helped speed up the installation of the copper panels. “There are eight hips on the dome,” he notes. “Every section of the dome is like a piece of pie, basically, so we were able to start the panels in various locations. We didn’t have to start at one end and go around the dome. We could move around.”

Repairing the statue on the top of the dome was also part of the scope of work. “We soldered copper patches on any damage the statue had,” Burge says. “C&D Waterproofing completely cleaned and buffed the statue and applied a copper coating.”

Across the Roof

After the work on the dome was completed, work began on the main roof. The existing roof was removed down to the existing steel deck. The lower roof also had a built-in, copper-clad gutter that had to be removed and reconstructed. After

Scaffolding systems were constructed for both phases of the project. Shown here is part of the system installed around the lower roof, which featured planks and guardrails at the eave and rake edges. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

the gutter was completed, work on the main roof began. “After we completely cleaned the metal decking, we had to install a layer of Grace Ultra High Temp underlayment,” Burge recalls. “We then installed two-by-four wood sleepers, 2 feet on center.”

Crews installed 1.5 inches of polyiso insulation between the two-by-fours, followed by another 1.5-inch layer of polyiso. Pieces of 5/8-inch plywood were then screwed down to the sleepers. The plywood received 30-pound felt, and the battens were installed 20 inches on center. The seams were completed using a custom-designed mechanical seamer manufactured by Roll Former Corp.

Installation of the 12,000 square feet of copper panels went smoothly, but where panels met the dome, details were tricky. “Everything is pitched, and the dome has eight different sections sitting right in the center of the structure,” Burge explains. “A lot of time and energy went into fabricating and installing custom flashing pieces at the base of the dome.”

The Safety Plan

A scaffolding system was the key to the safety plan for both phases of the project. “For Phase One, we had to remove a portion of the roofing system and put down some plywood on top of the existing roofing in order to build a scaffold to access the dome,” Burge says.

This photo shows the main roof before restoration work began. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

Scaffolding was constructed to the eave edge of the copper dome, allowing the gutter to be removed. Ladders were used to access the dome and personal fall arrest systems were attached into HitchClips from Safety Anchor Fall Equipment, LLC, which served as individual anchor points. “We continued that process as we went up, using ladder jacks,” says Burge. “We continued with that plan, and never deviated.”

After Phase One was completed, the scaffolding was removed, and another scaffolding system was installed around the entire lower roof. Phase Two required planks and pre-engineered guardrails at the eave and rake edges. “Part of process of installing this roof included installing new safety anchors at various locations, and as we finished up, we were able to use those anchors as tie-off points,” Burge points out.

Phase Two is scheduled for completion in early November, and Burge has high praise for everyone involved with the project. “Levine & Co. Inc. is the architecture firm on the project,” he says. “We didn’t deter from any details developed. They drove this thing. We have worked with them on a great many projects in the past, and we have a great comfort level with them.”

Copper panels, cladding and details were fabricated in Charles F. Evans Company’s metal shop. Photos: Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc.

The masonry and roofing work had to be well coordinated. “C&D Masonry & Waterproofing progressed ahead of us with items that we needed to be done, and then came back behind us to mortar all of the counter flashings back into the dome,” Burge says. “They were right there with us every step of the way.”

Finding the right combination of workers for this project was crucial, according to Burge. “We had one of our best crews on this project for a reason,” he says. “This project was led by Brian Babcock of Sheet Metal Local 112, and he was essential in putting this whole thing together. He’s been with Charles F. Evans Company for 20 years, and his leadership and focus is the reason this project is going to be successful.”

Ornate sheet metal work is rare these days, but the art is not lost at Charles F. Evans Company. “We’ve been doing this work for 60-plus years,” Burge says. “This knowledge and this workmanship has been handed down generation after generation. We wouldn’t have taken on this project if we didn’t have the confidence in our employees that we do.”

Historic restoration projects are becoming an increasingly bigger chunk of the company’s portfolio, notes Burge. “We do a lot of work with older universities and businesses that have these types of buildings,” he says. “A lot of buildings need this type of work, and it’s a trade not everyone else has. This is a craft that takes years to master. We harness that, we build from within, and we bring in young guys and teach them how to do it the right way. We have a great mix of people ages 23 up to 60, and it’s learned, it’s taught, and it’s preached.”

Burge is hopeful the new roof will last at least as long as its predecessor. “This is the one thing that makes Charles F. Evans Company special to me: the fact that what we do from an architectural sheet metal standpoint, from a slate, copper, tile roof standpoint—these roofs will last 100, 150 years, and it is artwork,” he says. “The fact that you’re a part of something that’s been around since the turn of the last century—to me it doesn’t get any better than that.”

TEAM

Architect: Levine & Company Inc., Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Levineco.net
Construction Manager: C&D Waterproofing Corp., Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, CDwaterproofingcorp.com
Roofing Contractor: Charles F. Evans Roofing Co. Inc., Elmira, New York, Evans-roofing.com

MATERIALS

Copper Supplier: Revere Copper Products, Reverecopper.com
Synthetic Underlayment: Grace Ultra High Temp, GCP Applied Technologies, GCPat.com
Mechanical Seamer: Roll Former Corp., Rollformercorp.com
Anchor Points: HitchClip, Safety Anchor Fall Equipment, LLC, Hitchclip.com

North Carolina Legislative Building Restoration Poses Unique Challenges

The North Carolina State Legislative Building was the site of a renovation project that included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems.

The North Carolina State Legislative Building was the site of a renovation project that included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems. Photos: SkySite Images

Some of the variables that can make a project difficult include a variety of complex, interconnected systems, unique design elements, and a tight schedule. These challenges are heightened on a highly visible, historic building, where the goal of keeping the design historically accurate must be balanced with making improvements to the structure and functionality of the systems. All of these elements and more were in play during the restoration of the one-of-a-kind roof on the North Carolina State Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina. It took a talented team of design, engineering, and roofing professionals to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

Originally designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, the building has been the home of the state legislature since 1963, but water intrusion under its copper pyramids and at windows and doors on the promenade level precipitated a complete restoration project. Renovation work conducted in 2016 and 2017 included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems.

The roofing phase of the project included removing and replacing the metal roof systems on the five copper-clad pyramids, as well as re-roofing the low-slope sections adjacent to the pyramids with a two-ply modified bitumen system. A liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed in the planter areas and under the pavers in the promenade section. The project also involved the removal and replacement of windows, doors, and skylights, as well as repairing and coating the concrete surfaces at the perimeter of the roof.

The design of the quilted flat lock copper panel system involved 17 different panel profiles. A false batten was added after the panels were in place.

The design of the quilted flat lock copper panel system involved 17 different panel profiles. A false batten was added after the panels were in place. Photos: SkySite Images

Companies involved in the project included Raymond Engineering, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, which provided engineering and architectural services; Owens Roofing Inc., also located in Raleigh, which served as the general contractor on the roofing phase of the project and installed the low-slope systems; and The Century Slate Company, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, which removed and replaced the copper roofs on the five pyramids.

Some of the key players in the project shared their insights with Roofing, including John Willers, a senior engineer with Raymond Engineering; Bert Owens, president of Owens Roofing; and Mike Tenoever, president of Century Slate.

“This is an iconic state building with a unique roof system which the owner and designer required to be aesthetically replicated,” Tenoever notes. “At the same time, some functionality and technical improvements were incorporated. This is a very high-profile project with a lot of complexity, particularly given the schedule. There were a lot of details compressed into a very short period of time.”

Design and Pre-Construction

Raymond Engineering conducted testing on the existing roofs and specified systems designed to match the originals and provide some necessary improvements, including added insulation and ventilation under the pyramids. Willers worked closely with Jason Mobraten, the senior architect on the project. “We provided the engineering and architectural services, beginning with design and then assisting with bidding and managing the construction phase of this project,” says Willers. “We engineered the copper roof, all of the detailing for the modified asphalt roof, and the detailing for the drainage, the pavers, and the sealants for the promenade.”

Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate was cleaned and primed, a liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed.

Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate was cleaned and primed, a liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed. Photos: SkySite Images

The schedule was an obvious challenge, as the majority of the work had to be completed while the legislature was in recess, and there were substantial financial penalties that would come into play if the work was not completed on time. “The client also required that the asbestos abatement be completed before re-roofing the copper-clad pyramids to avoid the risk of dislodging the asbestos-containing textured ceiling finish. However, doing the work in two phases allowed the asbestos contractor to get started while the rest of the job was designed and bid,” Willers states.

The building houses legislators’ offices, and it was open and occupied during construction, with the exception of the areas undergoing asbestos abatement. The schedule had to be carefully adjusted as the job progressed. “In addition to our role in monitoring the technical aspects of the construction, we closely monitored the construction phasing and sequencing, as it was directly driven by the schedule of the state legislature,” Willers notes. “We had to take a lot of care in developing the schedule and monitoring it.”

Willers and Mobraten knew that the details on this project would be crucial. “There were previously some issues where the copper and the low-slope membrane roofs met,” Willers says. “We detailed that very carefully so that we had redundancy in keeping that watertight.”

Extensive mock-ups of the copper pyramids were constructed and tested to ensure the quilted pattern could be exactly replicated while avoiding the leaks that plagued the existing structure.

Photos: SkySite Images

Photos: SkySite Images

As designers looked for ways to improve construction, they explored the design and construction of the quilted panels. “From a design standpoint, we wondered why we had this odd diamond-shaped pattern,” Willers recalls. “After we played with the dimensions a bit, we realized that if you fly over the building, from above all of those diamond sections look like squares.”

The key was to replicate the design with its false battens while avoiding leaks. “We were concerned about how to detail out the joining of the copper sheets that formed the diamond-shaped panels,” Willers says. “What had been done was susceptible to windblown rain getting in. We did two things differently: the little clips that supported these battens were secured by forming the clips with hooks that would be integral with the single-locked seams and soldering the clips to the top surface of the copper panels. Previously they were held in place by pop rivets, which went through the copper.”

The Secrets of the Pyramids

Century Slate was well prepared to tackle the copper roofing on the project. The company has been in business more than 20 years, and it specializes in historic restoration projects including slate, tile, wood, copper and other historical metals.

Crews from Century Slate removed the existing copper panels. The copper was salvaged and recycled.

Crews from Century Slate removed the existing copper panels. The copper was salvaged and recycled. Photos: SkySite Images

Tenoever knew the design of the original quilted flat lock copper panel system needed to be replicated exactly. “There were 17 different panel profiles, each within a very particular location within the roof’s quilted pattern,” Tenoever notes. “Proper placement of each different profile was essential to the whole system working correctly and looking like the original.”

The first step was to remove the existing copper roofs. “We tore off the entire system down to the deck,” Tenoever explains. “We then installed a semi permeable a vapor barrier, insulation, and a vapor retarder.”

Along with added insulation and Carlisle WIP 300HT self-adhering underlayment, crews also installed a vented nail base from Hunter Panels. “The Hunter Cool-Vent is a vented nail base that gets screwed down,” Tenoever says. “The goal was to have a breathable air cavity. All of the hip caps are actually vented to allow the air to get out.”

With the addition of the insulation and nail base, the roof was built up approximately 6 inches from the previous configuration. This added height necessitated changes in the custom flashing at the base of the pyramids but did not change the configuration of the copper panels.

In all, 22,500 square feet of copper panels fabricated by K&M Sheet Metal in Durham were installed. Each of the 17 different panels was labeled with a letter code. “When they were out at the site, we could just grab an A panel or a B panel, as needed, and bring them to that layout,” Tenoever explains. “Four of the pyramids were the same, and the center one was different, as that was the one that had skylights built into it.”

The areas between the pyramids were covered with a two-ply modified bitumen roofing system. Photos: SkySite Images

The panels feature flat-lock clips that were screwed down to the nail base. “It’s a typical flat seam panel system, and the panels interlock together,” says Tenoever. “You can see the batten panel above it, which is an aesthetic feature. The battens and the clips that held them were amazingly intricate, for what they were. They were cut out with a CNC machine and soldered onto the copper panels prior to installation. Later we came back and installed the batten system over the top.”

Century Slate built new curbs in the center pyramid for the new skylights, which were manufactured by Wasco. “The skylights were one of the last things to go on,” says Tenoever. “They were custom made because even though they look square, there isn’t a square angle on them.”

Custom copper flashings were installed at the bases. “One of the trickier parts for us probably would have been the tie-in of the modified roof, because Owens Roofing had to do their bit, and we were also replacing all of the wood blocking and everything all along the bottom edge before we could put our flashing on,” Tenoever recalls. “It took a lot of coordination between the two trades, but it all worked out.”

The Low-Slope Roof Systems

Owens Roofing served as the general contractor on the project and installed the low-slope roof systems. The company was established in 1986 in Raleigh, and focuses on commercial and institutional buildings, almost exclusively re-roofing. Much of its work is on historic buildings, so Owens was confident he could execute the project and complete it on schedule.

A scaffolding system offered secure roof access, but material had to be loaded and removed from one access point, so logistics had to be carefully mapped out.

A scaffolding system offered secure roof access, but material had to be loaded and removed from one access point, so logistics had to be carefully mapped out. Photos: SkySite Images

Crews from Owens Roofing installed 18,900 square feet of modified bitumen roofing from Soprema over concrete decks, including the areas between the pyramids. Tapered polyiso and half-inch DEXcell cover board from National Gypsum were installed using Duotack adhesive, followed by the two plies of modified bitumen membrane.

A liquid waterproofing system from Sika was specified for the large planter areas. Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate had been cleaned and primed, the Sika RoofPro system was installed.

“Once it’s cleaned and primed, it’s pretty simple,” says Owens. “The product is one part, and you don’t even have to mix it. We applied it with rollers on this project. You embed fabric sheets in the system and then topcoat it. It was a cold-weather job, but fortunately we caught a break last winter in that it wasn’t as cold as usual, and we didn’t miss as much time as we might have.”

The 30,000-square-foot promenade section was originally covered by white granite pavers native to North Carolina. The old pavers were removed and replaced over a new roof system, which was comprised of modified bitumen sheets beneath the liquid-applied waterproofing system. “The concrete deck was primed and a modified bitumen base ply heat welded to the deck,” Owens explains. “This surface was primed in preparation for the Roof Pro system, which was then installed.”

Innovative Roof Services of Raleigh was called in to conduct a high-voltage electrical testing to ensure there were no voids in the system before the pavers were re-installed. The pavers had originally been set in a bed of mortar, and they had to be removed and cleaned, which revealed a problem. “When we took the pavers up, we found out that they ranged between 1-1/8 and 1-3/4 inches thick,” Owens notes. “That wasn’t a problem when they were set in a bed of mortar, but over extruded polystyrene, they would have been all up and down. We put in a change order and had the pavers set in a bed of sand on top of one layer polystyrene.” The sand was adjusted by hand to ensure the pavers were level. New pavers were added to replace those broken over the years.

On the roof’s concrete eyebrows, damaged areas of concrete were repaired, joints were sealed, and a cold-applied waterproofing system from Sika Sarnafil was used to cover 8,800 square feet of concrete.

Numerous Challenges

Important considerations on the project included safety and logistics, as well as the tight schedule. Safety was paramount, and a third-party safety monitor was on the site to ensure the safety plan was designed and executed properly. During the time between when the original skylights were removed and when their replacements installed, the voids in the roof deck needed to be cordoned off and covered according to OSHA regulations. Personal fall arrest systems were used on the pyramids and outside of the safety perimeter, which was marked with flags. “With the promenade, you had a wide concrete eyebrow, so it made it easier to set up the safety lines and keep everyone safely away from the edge,” Owens notes.

This aerial photo taken before the restoration project shows the copper roofs with their green patina. Photos: SkySite Images

“Safety is a key concern as on all jobs, but this one in particular was highly visible out the windows of the nearby Department of Labor,” Owens continues. “We were paid a courtesy visit and agreed with them that an on-site safety meeting conducted by their personnel might be useful. The owner allowed us use of one of their auditoriums and we had a very productive half-day meeting for all trades. Every week we had a meeting with a state construction monitor.”

A scaffolding system was set up that offered secure roof access, but there was only one point for loading and unloading material, so logistics at the site were a concern. “We had to use wheelbarrows and roof carts to transport materials back and forth to the scaffolding tower,” Tenoever notes. “Between the removal of the original roof and the installation of the multiple layers of the new roof system, over 150,000 square feet of roofing materials were moved by hand over an average distance of approximately 200 feet.”

Loading and unloading added another wrinkle to the complicated schedule. “The schedule was based on when the legislature was scheduled to come back to town—not how long the job was supposed to take,” Owens says. “We were all concerned with the ambitious time frame and $1,000 a day liquidated damages included with this job.”

Willers cited excellent communication as one of the keys to completing the project on time. “Fortunately, the project managers for the general contractor and other trades were highly organized individuals,” Willers says. “Regular site meetings were detailed and thorough. Although setbacks did occur, communication kept the ball rolling.”

The roof system on the building’s iconic copper clad pyramids was removed and carefully recreated, matching the original design while adding a vented cavity and increasing the thermal insulation. Photos: SkySite Images

A Unique Experience

Copper removed from the existing roof was salvaged and recycled, notes Willers, with the exception of a few pieces that

were cut into the shape of the state of North Carolina to serve as mementos of the unique project. “We’re very proud of the design and the outcome—and the assistance we got from all of the contractors involved,” Willers says. “We had some pretty heavy rains after the project was completed, including some high winds, and there were no leaks.”

Tenoever also looks back on the project with pride. “A one-of-a-kind roof system was custom built and delivered on schedule and with the owner and designer’s praises,” he says. “Taking something so amazing and restoring it to the beauty it originally had—we all get a kick out of that.”

TEAM

Design and Engineering Services: Raymond Engineering, Raleigh, North Carolina, RaymondLLC.com
General Contractor: Owens Roofing Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina
Metal Roofing Contractor: The Century Slate Company, Durham, North Carolina, CenturySlate.com
Leak Testing: Innovative Roof Services, LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, IRS-LLC.net

MATERIALS

Metal Roof System
Copper: 20-ounce copper sheet metal
Vented Nail Base: Hunter Cool-Vent, Hunter Panels, HunterPanels.com
Underlayment: Carlisle WIP 300HT, Carlisle, Carlislewipproducts.com
Skylights: Wasco Skylights, Wascoskylights.com

Modified Bitumen Membrane Roof System

Membrane: Sopralene Flam 180 and Sopralene Flam 180 FR GR, Soprema, Soprema.us
Adhesive: Duotack, Soprema
Insulation: Sopra-Iso, Soprema
Cover Board: DEXcell, National Gypsum, NationalGypsum.com

Waterproofing System

Liquid Applied Membrane: RoofPro 641, Sika Corp., USA.Sika.com
Reinforcing Fabric: Reemat, Sika Corp.
Primer: Sikalastic EP Primer/Sealer
Extruded Polystyrene Insulation: Foamular 604, Owens Corning, OwensCorning.com

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