Architect Specifies Synthetic Slate on Historic Structure

The red brick administration building in Owatonna, Minnesota, has a long, interesting history. The historic structure was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1975. It was originally built in 1886. Recently the building exterior was upgraded. It now has a new DaVinci Single-Width Slate roof overhead.

Historic Complex

The Romanesque Revival style building was originally designed by architect Warren Barnes Dunnell. It is part of a complex that served as the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children from 1886 to 1945. The State School operated for 60 years. During that time it was home to 10,635 children.

The facility reopened as the Owatonna State School. Its mission shifted to educating children with developmental disabilities. After that, the facility closed again in 1970. It sat vacant for four years. However, the campus of 19 structures was purchased in the mid 1970s by the city of Owatonna.

Today this historic structure serves as the Administration Building for Owatonna. It also houses the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum.

Specifying Composite Slatehistoric structure

“We have quite an interesting history,” says Aaron J. Fitzloff, facility manager – government buildings and grounds for the city of Owatonna. “Part of our role is to preserve the history of this complex. Therefore, we must schedule regular upgrades. Recently this included removing the old asphalt shingles.”

The first step was to find an architecturally appealing roofing tile. The city hired the team at Adsit Architecture and Planning. The Minneapolis-based firm specializes in historic preservation and housing.

“We want to bring back the prominence of the original slate roof,” says architect Mark Gunstad with Adsit. “We specifically wanted a composite roof. Our feeling is that it will have a long lifespan. From our search, we determined that DaVinci products provide the most realistic look for a composite roof.”

Synthetic Selection

There are other factors that influenced the decision to specify a DaVinci roof.

“The European color blend and appearance of the tiles played a major role in the selection,” says Gunstad. “In addition, DaVinci has turret packages available, which was very important. After that, we were looking for a product that’s easy to install. Above all, cost was a factor. DaVinci hits all the marks.

“Our company does a lot of work with historic structures. This is our first time working with the DaVinci product. However, it won’t be our last. We are excited to specify these synthetic roofing tiles on other projects in the future.”

Installing a New, Historic Roofhistoric structure

After selecting the synthetic slate product, the next step was finding an installer. The city selected Schwickert’s Tecta America to tackle the historic renovation. The company has experience installing DaVinci synthetic slate and shake products.

This is an extensive roofing project. It includes steep roof slopes, flat roof areas and siding on dormers.

“Weather was one of our biggest challenges,” says Fitzloff. “It turned out to be a long project. And, during the entire process the building had scaffolding.

“From a historic perspective, we’re exceptionally glad that the DaVinci materials replicate real slate so authentically. Now that the project is finished, it looks awesome. Everyone I’ve spoken with really likes the appearance of the synthetic slate.”