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

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Historic Home Receives Shingle Roof System after Devastating Storm

The big storm took a toll on the old house.

The big storm took a toll on the old house.

In the spring of 2011, a devastating storm brought heavy winds, torrential rain, baseball-sized hail and an unforgiving tornado to Centerville, Ohio. Sitting directly in the path of destruction was one of the oldest homes in town. Left unprotected, the building had suffered significant damage. After years of neglect, Thrush & Son LLC, Brookville, Ohio, a company with three generations of experience in restoring homes and a reputation for its attention to detail, was called in to survey the damage—and it did not look good.

The historic home was in need of new siding, windows, aluminum gutters, entry doors, garage doors and a roof. Thrush & Son was up to the task and came with a plan to reverse the storm’s destruction. To accomplish the team’s goal of restoring the historic roof, Thrush & Son relied upon the safety and security of a shingle roof system to get the job done.

Rebuilding History in Centerville

Thrush & Son provided the homeowners, the Utz family, with a detailed, step-by-step, analysis of the damage to their home, as well as a two-pronged proposal. The company’s immediate goal was to restore the home to the way it was before the storm. Thrush & Son also felt that improving the quality of the home was important. To be successful with its restoration plan, Thrush & Son recommended the Signature Select System featuring Starter Shingles, Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge, Gorilla Guard Underlayment and 76 squares of StormMaster Slate Blackstone. Thrush & Son believed this line would not only hold true to the character of the home, but also bring back some of its authenticity.

Thrush & Son recommended the Signature Select System featuring Starter Shingles, Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge, Gorilla Guard Underlayment and 76 squares of StormMaster Slate Blackstone.

Thrush & Son recommended the Signature Select System featuring Starter Shingles, Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge, Gorilla Guard Underlayment and 76 squares of StormMaster Slate Blackstone.


 
It didn’t take much to convince the Utz family, who liked the idea of a 20-year extended premium protection period (as well as the lifetime warranty), to choose the full Signature Select System for the home.

Corey Thrush, chief marketing officer for Thrush & Son, explained why the Signature Select System was chosen for the project: “Having new shingles installed is something homeowners will only have to do once or twice in their lifetime and we wanted to help them get it right the first time around. The home was not just important to the Utz family, but as one of the original homes in Centerville, it holds a special place in the hearts of the townspeople as well.”

Choosing Shingles

The big storm took a toll on the old house. Thrush & Son, who have been preferred contractors of the roofing manufacturer since 2012, knew right away that the Signature Select System’s products would be perfect for the job. “We have been using Atlas products for a number of years,” Thrush notes. “And we have seen the continued evolution of not only the products, but the company, as well.”

Thrush & Son had to make several changes to the home, including removing the box gutters, cutting off the rafter tails and installing new fascia board.

Thrush & Son had to make several changes to the home, including removing the box gutters, cutting off the rafter tails and installing new fascia board.

The original structure had undergone many modifications during the past century, including different roof pitches and dead valleys. Because of the alterations, Thrush & Son had to make several changes to the home. Removing the box gutters, cutting off the rafter tails and installing new fascia board were critical to the project. With the preliminary work out of the way, Thrush & Son was happy to put the Signature Select System to work.

Home Sweet Home

Despite the many challenges, Thrush & Son was soon able to restore the historic house. Thrush & Son used metal valleys during the StormMaster Slate application, which allowed the shingles to be installed from one pitch to the next without complications. This application also helps with the unsightly appearance of a hump in the roof due to a no-cut valley, a straight cut valley or a woven valley. Additionally, because the Signature Select System was so easy to work with, roofers were able to do the job quickly so the project was completed on time.

The newly finished roof will provide the Utz family with unmatched protection for years to come. StormMaster Slate shingles have a Class 4 impact resistance rating to help resist hailstorms. They also offer a 130-mph Wind Limited Warranty, which is the ultimate security against strong winds. Finally, the power of Scotchgard Protector will keep the architectural shingles beautiful year after year, as they prevent the ugly black streaks caused by algae.

Thrush & Son used metal valleys during the installation, which allowed the shingles to be installed from one pitch to the next without complications.

Thrush & Son used metal valleys during the installation, which allowed the shingles to be installed from one pitch to the next without complications.

Celebrating the successful completion of the project, Thrush praised the roofing system. “We believe the product is a great partnership for us, as well as for the homeowner,” he said. “We always install the entire Signature Select System to ensure the customer gets the extra 10 years of premium protection before the proration begins.”

Finally, with the warranty submitted and the renovations complete, the customer (and the entire town of Centerville) can rest easy because the historic home is now protected by a new roofing system.

Roof Materials

Signature Select System from Atlas Roofing

PHOTOS: Atlas Roofing

Restore Domes with 22-karat Gold Restoration Film

RealGold Inc. announces a new, cost-effective 20-plus-year 22-Karat Gold Dome Restoration Film.

RealGold Inc. announces a new, cost-effective 20-plus-year 22-Karat Gold Dome Restoration Film.

RealGold Inc., a manufacturer of genuine gold and silver exterior-grade products, announces a new, cost-effective 20-plus-year 22-Karat Gold Dome Restoration Film.

Used to beautify church domes throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, the 22-karat gold film features a 20-plus-year outdoor warranty. Guaranteed non-fading and non-delaminating for 20 years, the maintenance-free exterior grade of the gold film is durable and features a non-stick surface resistant to airborne contaminants and fowl waste.

The 22-Karat Gold Dome Restoration Film features a permanent self-adhesive application process, costing a fraction of traditional hand-applied gold leaf. It far outlasts gold-colored paints, which are prone to fading and peeling.

For a free estimate of RealGold’s 22-Karat Gold Dome Restoration Film, interested parties are invited to email the height and base diameter measurements of the dome, along with photographs of the dome highlighting two sides, to billcrowley@realgoldinc.com.

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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Diamond-shaped Shingles Are an Option for Historic Homes or Buildings

PABCO Roofing Products introduces its Cascade Signature Cut Shingles.

PABCO Roofing Products introduces its Cascade Signature Cut Shingles.

PABCO Roofing Products introduces its Cascade Signature Cut Shingles. Cascade is a diamond-shaped shingle and a unique option for roofs designed in the classic architectural styles. Featuring the distinctive diamond shape that is recognized by U.S. Patent No. D589, 172 S, Cascade is often specified on historic buildings on or roofs in historic neighborhoods. Cascade features up to a limited lifetime warranty for single family residential structures and a 50-year fully transferable limited warranty for all other structures. All four traditional colors are available with Scotchgard Protector, which PABCO Roofing warrants that the roof will resist the black streaks caused by algae for 20 years. Cascade comes in four different colors: Antique Black, Cambrian Slate, Oakwood and Pewter Gray.

Cascade is UL classified to meet ASTM wind-resistance standards, UL 790 Class A, Fire Resistance Standard and complies with CSA A123.5, Fiberglass Shingle Standard and ASTM D3018 Type I, Fiberglass Shingle Standard.