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KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Almost 140 years after it was built, the chapel at the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center has a new roof. The original roof, constructed out of slate, boasted a large cross with a star-studded border in light colors on the background of black slate. That roof was long ago replaced with asphalt shingles. Now, thanks to a dedicated team effort, the detailed pattern of the original roof has been replicated using DaVinci Roofscapes synthetic slate tiles.
“The old 1800s photos of the roof design were faded and required a great deal of work to configure a new roof layout that would accurately reflect the original roof,” says architect Edward Groh with PEDCO, an engineering and architecture firm in Cincinnati, Ohio responsible for designing the roof. “The current roof structure of the historic building could not handle the weight of real slate, so we specified the lighter weight synthetic roofing slate tiles from DaVinci.”
For the project, 27 squares of medium tan slate tiles and 67 squares of black slate tiles were ordered from DaVinci to complete both sides of the roof plus the steeple and vestibules.
“We were impressed by the authentic look of the DaVinci products and their 50-year warranty,” says Groh. “The availability of different shades of tiles made it possible to accurately duplicate the original design from the chapel’s roof. The result is a roof that everyone is exceptionally pleased with and a design that brings the original exterior look back to the chapel.”
While PEDCO had the challenge of drawing details and specifying product for the new roof, the fourth-generation roofers at Detroit Cornice and Slate Company were tasked with installation. “The company was founded by our great grandfather back in 1888 which is just 20 years after the chapel was built,” says Dawn Hesse, project manager of the Ferndale, Michigan company. “Over the last 122 years Detroit Cornice has worked on a great variety of historical roof restoration projects all over the country, but this one was unique in that the only clue to the original pattern was a sepia-toned archive photo more than a century old.
“Working with a 7-1/2-inch exposure and 9-inch wide field tiles, it was important that the vertical and horizontal band dimensions come out looking the same width. The client also wanted the vertical line of the cross to be completely straight. However, it is not recommended to create a ‘slot on slot’ configuration with any roofing.”
To solve the challenge, Detroit Cornice blended together different widths of DaVinci tiles in 6-, 9- and 12-inch sizes to come as close as possible to creating the cross while maintaining the warranty. A chalk outline of the pattern was sketched on the roofing felt for the installation crews to follow.
Marc and Kurt Hesse supervised all aspects of the installation of the roof, steeple and vestibule from November 2009 to March 2010.
According to Hesse, the biggest challenge facing the team on the chapel project was gaining a full understanding of the roof’s original design. “We’re experts in slate and flashing details, and knew that this project would require careful pre-construction planning,” says Hesse. “Multiple layouts were created and reviewed by all members of the team. It was a time-consuming process that required patience and input from everyone involved. A variety of roofing tile colors, sizes and patterns were considered. Overall, the coordinated efforts needed to make this project happen were a key to its success. Part of that success was due to the support we received from DaVinci, as well as providing one of the better looking synthetic slate products on the market today.”
General contractor for the project, Cliff Dech, agrees with Hesse. “This is the first time our company has used DaVinci products and we’re very pleased with them,” says Dech, project manager at Calvary Contracting in Fairborn, Ohio. “We’d use these durable synthetic tiles again.
“Just like Detroit Cornice and Slate, our company has worked on other church projects in the past. In our role as general contractor for this particular project we were impressed to see the far reaching capabilities come together of everyone involved — the architect, the roofing tile supplier and the installation team.”
One of the three oldest Veterans Administration facilities in the nation, the Dayton VA Medical Center has provided comprehensive health care to veterans for the past 141 years. The chapel construction began in 1868. The Gothic style chapel was completed and dedicated in 1870. Built of stone quarried on the property by the veterans themselves, the chapel is the first religious structure in the United States paid for by the federal government.
The interior of the chapel is 71 feet by 48 feet, and seats 600 people. Decorative stained glass windows adorn each site of the chapel. Original woodwork inside was walnut and ash, with red-cushioned pews and green carpeting. Used for both Protestant and Catholic worship services over the years, church services have been well attended by both veterans and area citizens. Now, with a new roof overhead, the chapel can continue serving the community for decades to come.
DaVinci Roofscapes has manufactured award-winning synthetic slate and shake roofing since 1999. The polymer roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. DaVinci proudly makes its products in America and is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the Cool Roof Rating Council and the U.S. Green Building Council. For additional information call 1-800-328-4624 or visit our website.
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