DaVinci Slate Roof Returns Historic Building to Original Beauty

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Maryann Pilon, director of facilities at Mount St. Mary College in the quaint hills of Newburgh, N.Y., had a unique problem. A campus building needed a new roof, but not just any roof. Naturally, it had to provide top-rate durability and weather tightness–but it also had to reflect the 140-year-old building’s historical significance.

“The Villa Madonna was a private residence in the late 1800s–it is built in the beautiful Victorian style that was popular among affluent families at the time,” Pilon said. “So in addition to overall durability, the aesthetic qualities of the new roof were a top priority.”

The Villa Madonna has served many purposes for Mount St. Mary. In the beginning, it served as the entire college–classes, residence hall, library and offices. Today, it houses the admissions and president’s offices, with a first-floor parlor that’s used for lectures, seminars and other small gatherings. When Pilon accepted the job at Mount St. Mary in 2005, the Villa Madonna roof was one of the first things she noticed. As a university focal point, the building is immediately visible when visitors drive into campus.

The old, red asbestos shingle roof had faded to pink with gray streaks, and was doing a disservice to the architecture and the beauty of the building. Pilon decided something had to be done. She pushed to get a new roof for the Villa Madonna on the summer projects list for the college.

Work began in mid-May 2007, with completion scheduled by August 15. When the contractor responsible for the project–Neth & Son, Inc., a 35-year roofing company in Depew, N.Y.–took off the old shingles, they found old cedar shakes underneath.

“The old wood shakes were probably the original roofing–the asbestos shingle had been installed directly on top of it,” Pilon said. “To enhance the beauty and Victorian

style of the building, I wanted to use natural slate, but I didn’t want to deal with the maintenance. The obvious solution was a synthetic slate roof–and the product we chose was DaVinci.”

Pilon considered a range of synthetic slate products before selecting DaVinci Slate. She was impressed by the DaVinci ribbing structure that allowed the tile to expand and contract with temperature cycles, preventing curling and cracking. This feature also ensures air circulation underneath the shingle, keeping the roof deck cooler.

“DaVinci had such an authentic look, I was sold as soon as I saw the sample, but the ribbing structure, 50-year warranty and competitive price sealed the deal,” Pilon said.

Her response to the DaVinci Slate is a common one, according to Ed Tutuska, sheet metal superintendent of Neth & Son, Inc. Tutuska and Neth & Son roofing installer Kevin Barlow have put DaVinci slate on numerous buildings whose owners were seeking an authentic slate look.

“We’re bidding the DaVinci Slate all over. The resemblance to real slate is phenomenal. I’ve been doing this for 45 years, and even I have to actually go up on the roof and touch it to see that it’s not real slate,” Tutuska said. “It’s practically maintenance-free, and as roofers, we like it, because it’s bundled in a way that makes it extremely easy to install.”

Gary Browne, roofing consultant and owner of The Browne Company in Orchard Park, N.Y., also worked with Pilon to ensure that her choice was the right one.

“Obviously with a building like this one, aesthetics means a lot. Another primary consideration is water tightness, so the roof isn’t going to leak after we’ve done all this work,” Browne said. “The old tile roof was looking pretty bad, pretty dated. Maryann ended up choosing the DaVinci Slate in Vineyard Blend, and it really fits the campus and the brick buildings around the Villa Madonna.”

Before beginning work, Pilon made a presentation to the City of Newburg Architectural Review Committee to get their blessing for the new roof. The committee had reviewed different upgrades to some of the upscale housing in the area, including some historic old homes. The committee is responsible for making sure the aesthetics of the products used fit the architecture and the historic flavor of the community, according to Pilon. Fortunately, they too loved the look of the DaVinci product.

The work on the Villa Madonna has enhanced the historic qualities of the building’s architecture and restored it to its original beauty, Pilon said. “In addition to the DaVinci roof, we put in ornamental copper with sputters, downspouts and decorative flashing on the Villa Madonna,” she said. “Those decorative copper details, combined with the copper cross and the roof, makes the building a real showpiece for the university.”