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

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Historic Home Gets a Refresh with a Striking New Copper Roof

Anyone who spends time in Connecticut finds themselves in a place with deep historical roots that stretch back to colonial times. It is an inherent part of the charm of the state and something in which residents take great pride.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, the copper roof maintains the traditional look and feel of the house.

There is a real, tangible window to this rich historical tradition in many of the historic homes and buildings all across the state. Great care has been taken to preserve the look and operation of many historic structures and to integrate them into the architectural fabric of communities all around Connecticut.

Like many places and institutions in the state, Litchfield County has a history that goes back to pre-Revolutionary days. Established as a county in 1719, Litchfield County was home to Harriett Beecher Stowe and was also where Sarah Pierce established in 1792 the Litchfield Female Academy, one of the first major educational institutions for women and girls in the U.S.

Today, Litchfield County has 166 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Staying true to the architectural heritage of the state is very important to the people who live there. However, just because a home or building looks like it did a few hundred years ago doesn’t mean it has to operate that way, too. Many owners of historic homes want to bring the function of their houses into modern times while still keeping the look and feel of the past.

This was the case for homeowners in Litchfield County who wanted to make some modern improvements while still preserving the traditional look and feel of their home in Sharon, Conn. For this work, the homeowners turned to the professionals at Anderson Enterprises, a general contracting building and renovation firm in Sharon. The project started with modest goals in mind but quickly grew.

“We were initially hired to replace four oak floors,” recalls Ellen Burcroff with Anderson Enterprises. “That was then extended to changing the mouldings, re-plastering, painting, renovating the third floor and master bedroom, as well as rebuilding the chimney and replacing the roof.”

Anderson Enterprises won the job after an interview. “Our goal was to get the homeowners into a more pleasing interior,” Burcroff says.

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

The entire home features a brass snow-retention system. PHOTO: MetalPlus LLC

As part of the interior overhaul, the project included providing the home with proper ventilation and insulation. Along with delivering the performance desired by the homeowners, maintaining the traditional look and feel of the house was extremely important. Performing this kind of retrofit on a historic home without damaging the exterior often means going in through the roof, which was what was decided upon for this project. Removing the old wood shake roof meant installing a new one. The contractor believed this was a perfect time for a change.

“The customers wanted a historically authentic look,” Burcroff explains. “We strongly recommended not using wood shingles again. Ultimately, we all decided on using copper for the new roof.”

A copper roof was a perfect solution for this project for many reasons. On a performance level, the homeowners were interested in the durability and energy efficiency of copper. Aesthetically, copper delivers a striking curb appeal that is still in keeping with the historic nature of the home. And its natural patina will only enhance the look of the home over time.

GETTING IT DONE

With the appropriate decisions made, Anderson Enterprises’ team started work on the home. The wood shakes and wood lath were removed, exposing the rafters underneath. Fiberglass insulation was installed with about a 2-inch space left above the rafters for airflow.

PHOTOS: VLC IMAGES MOBILE STUDIO, COURTESY MARIO LALLIER, unless otherwise noted

Pages: 1 2