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DECRA Case Study - Hearthstone Historic House

Hearthstone House Metal Roof

When the switch was thrown on September 30, 1882, Hearthstone House became the world’s first private residence to be illuminated by electricity generated by an Edison hydroelectric power system. Along with the original Edison wiring, innovative electroliers (chandeliers with electric lights), and pristine switches, the Hearthstone House features the breathtaking interiors and master craftsmanship typical of the lavish Gilded Age.

There are a lot of irreplaceable antiquities to protect under the Hearthstone House Museum roof.

Absolute exterior integrity is required to shield the irreplaceable historic treasures beneath the prominent complexities of 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

Hearthstone House “exhibits a remarkable level of artistry in every facet of its interior” with nine elegantly tiled fireplaces, etched glass over 3 majestic entry doors, and meticulously painted 12-foot ceilings.

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

Historical Preservation Through the 21st Century and Beyond With DECRA Metal Roofing

When Hearthstone House’s existing roof (comprised of a mix of wood shakes and asphalt shingles) was nearing the end of its life cycle, DECRA Metal Roofing was chosen to meet the complex and unique roofing challenges of the historic site including:

  • Replicating original roofing materials and color to preserve the historic aesthetics of the existing cedar shingle roof.
  • Accommodating the elaborate roof design elements of the classic Queen Anne Victorian architecture of the Gilded Age.
  • Protecting the delicate 19th Century house’s prized archaic interior and original Edison electroliers, light switches, and the world’s only surviving examples of an original, intact Edison wiring system.
  • Enduring the punishing elements of Wisconsin’s seasonal weather extremes while eliminating the cost and disruptions of repeated re-roofing every 10-20 years.
  • Meeting Department of Interior (DOI) standards for historic landmark preservation with a brand new “old-looking” roof as specified by the executive director of the Hearthstone House.
  • Upgrading the roof without any damage to the underlying structure.
  • Exceeding the restoration team’s longevity goal of at least 70 years for roof durability.

Top-Down Restoration with DECRA

Designed by William Waters, one of the nation’s most prominent architects of the 19th Century, the Hearthstone House features a variety of roof forms. As part of a 3-year long $500,000 exterior restoration project, the first step in the “top-down” process was the complete dismantling and rebuilding of the home’s four massive 137-year-old brick chimneys.

When the master masons from Quality Restorations had the 25-foot chimney stacks up to DOI standards and ready to weather another century, it was time for the master roofers at JF Lopez Roofing to install the new DECRA roof.

JF Lopez Roofing Steps Up to The Hearthstone House Challenge

When Hearthstone House’s executive director George Schroeder saw that the existing wood shakes and asphalt shingles were rapidly coming to the end of their life cycles early in 2019, he contacted JF Lopez Roofing, one of Wisconsin’s most reputable roofing contractors. Without a doubt, the Hearthstone House challenge would require the best, both in roofing products and contractor expertise. JF Lopez Roofing and DECRA were the winning combination that fit the bill.

“Our company is committed to creating a legacy of which our grandchildren will be proud. This project with DECRA is something they can look back on and be proud of for years to come."  Frank Lopez, Co-Owner, JF Lopez Roofing

Sales representative Carlos Lopez provided the Hearthstone House restoration team with two quotes; one for DECRA Metal Roofing and another for conventional asphalt shingles. The priorities for the Hearthstone House project were longevity, quality, protection, and preservation, so naturally JF Lopez Roofing recommended DECRA Shingle XD as the superior choice. Schroeder agreed and tear-off work on the venerated Victorian manor commenced in the heart of the Wisconsin summer on July 15, 2019.

The imposing Victorian roof would require lifts, ladders, and lots of pure talent on the part of the JF Lopez crew to deal with the challenges of perilous heights and steep pitches, along with multiple chimneys and a skylight to flash. You can view JF Lopez Roofing’s video of the challenging project here.

Schroeder praised the installation as “a masterful job” by the JF Lopez team. Soon, visitors to Hearthstone House would find that the new DECRA Shingle XD roof in Classic Cobblestone replicated the home’s original color perfectly. The resulting “new-old” roof is almost “indistinguishable from our previous cedar shingle roof” and visitors are quite surprised when they learn that the Victorian era roof is actually made of modern high-grade steel.

So why exactly do the top roofing contractors such as JF Lopez Roofing recommend DECRA metal roofing products over less expensive asphalt shingles, clay tiles, or wood shakes? 

DECRA Shingle XD: The Superior Roofing Choice For Hearthstone House and Your Home

While the cost of initial installation for asphalt shingles is cheaper, the need to replace them every 10-20 years or so nullifies any savings over the long term. Even the best asphalt shingle warranties only cover 20-30 years and are easily voided if manufacturers decide that installation instructions haven’t been followed meticulously.

Asphalt shingles are prone to fish-mouthing over time, and wood shakes are vulnerable to distortion, warping and loosening around the fasteners after repeated wet/dry cycles. Both conventional roofing materials can deteriorate over time, even in sunny climates.

With the new DECRA Shingle XD roof, Hearthstone House is now protected by the roofing industry’s most comprehensive Lifetime Limited Warranty with a durable metal roof that will ensure that the classic Victorian home first built in 1882 is still standing strong in 2082 and beyond. DECRA’s advanced acrylic-formula bonding will keep the Classic Cobblestone color looking as good in 2082 as it did when first installed in the summer of 2019.

Fortunately, the DECRA upgrade came just in time. The JF Lopez crew only needed to replace 4 squares of the decking of the total area of the 6,200 square foot Victorian roof. That still amounts to 400 square feet where the deteriorated shakes and shingles could no longer protect the underlying deck from wind and weather.

Had the Hearthstone roofing upgrade project been delayed much longer, the damage could have been much more extensive and much more expensive to repair, highlighting the importance of a timely DECRA upgrade.

About DECRA Metal Roofing

DECRA Metal Roofing has provided the first line of defense against the elements for homes and buildings for more than 60 years and is unsurpassed in every product comparison category, from wind, fire, and impact resistance to energy efficiency and sustainability.

With a Lifetime Limited Warranty that goes far beyond the 10 or 20-year warranties of conventional roofing products, DECRA is the gold standard of modern roofing systems for architects, contractors, and homeowners who will settle for nothing less than the best. Proudly made in the U.S., DECRA’s product quality is matched by our operational excellence as the only metal roofing manufacturer with fully-stocked distribution centers throughout the country that can ship just 72 hours after receiving your order.

When you’re ready for one roof for a lifetime please don’t hesitate to contact us to speak with a DECRA advisor.