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Why Metal Roofing is Best for Historic Buildings

Why Metal Roofing is Best for Historic Buildings

When a historic mansion needed a new roof that could withstand the harsh Wisconsin weather and maintain the classic aesthetics of its Victorian-era architecture, DECRA Metal Roofing was the easy choice.

Keep reading to learn the many benefits of metal roofing, as told through the lens of the Hearthstone Historic House Museum.

Preserving History: The Hearthstone Historic House Museum 

In 1882, the Hearthstone House became the first private residence to turn on a light using Thomas Edison's hydroelectric power system.

Today, the house is known as the Hearthstone Historic House Museum.

As mentioned on their website, “The residence still contains the original Edison electroliers, original light switches, and some of the world's only examples of original Edison wiring in situ.  


Hearthstone is on the National Register of Historic Places for its technological, historic, architectural and artistic significance.

However, this beautifully-restored house and museum is much more. It’s an excellent example of Queen Anne Victorian Style architecture, designed by a leading architect of the day, with breathtaking interiors.

It’s hard-wired into local history as its story is the story of the history of Wisconsin, of the founding of the paper industry, of the Gilded Age, and of fortunes won and lost.”

The exterior of the mansion is equally ornate with intricate roof designs that result in a complexity rarely seen in modern architecture.


The Challenge: Replacing a Deteriorating Roof on a Historic Building

When the Hearthstone Historic House Museum’s roof (a mix of asphalt shingles and wood shakes) began to deteriorate, a more durable roofing solution was sought.

Absolute exterior integrity was required to shield the irreplaceable historic treasures beneath the Victorian roof, including intricately hand-carved wood doors, paneled wainscoting lining the walls, and extravagant parquet floors made from native Wisconsin hardwoods, such as maple, white oak and cherry.


If ever there was a case where “nothing less than the best roof will do,” the Hearthstone Historic House Museum is a perfect example.

The mansion’s new roof needed to be able to:

  • Replicate the original style of the roof to preserve its historic aesthetics.
  • Accommodate the elaborate roof design of the classic Queen Anne Victorian architecture.
  • Protect the interior and original Edison electroliers, light switches and wiring system.
  • Endure the Wisconsin weather, which includes heavy snow, high winds and hail.
  • Meet Department of Interior (DOI) standards for historic landmark preservation.
  • Exceed the restoration team’s longevity goal of at least 70 years for roof durability.  

Modern Endurance and Classic Elegance with Metal Roofing

Without a doubt, the Hearthstone House challenge would require the best, both in roofing products and contractor expertise. This is why George Schroeder, executive director of the museum, sought professional advice from JF Lopez Roofing, one of Wisconsin’s most reputable roofing contractors.

The JF Lopez team provided two quotes; one for metal roofing and another for conventional asphalt shingles. Since the priorities for the Hearthstone House project were longevity, quality, protection and preservation, JF Lopez Roofing recommended DECRA metal shingle roofing.

Schroeder agreed, and tear-off work on the Victorian mansion commenced in the summer of 2019. The complex Victorian roof required lifts, ladders and extensive experience to deal with the challenges of steep pitches, multiple chimneys and skylights. 


Once installation began, the JF Lopez crew noticed parts of the underlying roof deck so deteriorated that the wood shakes and shingles could no longer protect the roof deck from the elements. Had the roofing project taken place much later, the damage could have been much more extensive and expensive.

After the job was complete, visitors to the Hearthstone HIstoric House Museum would find that the new DECRA Shingle XD roof in Classic Cobblestone replicated the home’s original color perfectly.

“This was a masterful job. The roof is practically indistinguishable from our previous cedar and asphalt shingle roof,” praised Shroeder. “Visitors are quite surprised when they learn that the Victorian-era roof is actually made of modern high-grade metal shingles.” 


DECRA Shingle XD in Classic Cobblestone

About DECRA Metal Roofing 

If a metal roof can meet the high standards and intricate demands of a historical treasure like the Hearthstone House, just imagine what it can do for your home.

Regardless of your home's architectural style or age, DECRA’s line of stone-coated metal roofing products can achieve the same aesthetics as less durable roofing materials, such as clay tiles, asphalt shingles or wood shakes.

Metal roofs can endure nearly anything Mother Nature has to offer, including:

Ready to experience the DECRA difference? Order a complimentary sample today.


Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in January of 2020, but has been updated with relevant information. 

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