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Historic Restoration - Lyons Contracting

Historic Restoration

This was one of my favorite projects, the house is around 115 years old  and is on the National Historic Register. Although beautiful on the inside; the exterior, specifically the roof, had been neglected. 90% of the roof is completely out of sight so it was easy for deterioration to get out of control. The client called with a small leak in the front part of the house.

Before: you can see the upper flat roof is covered in blisters and various peeling coatings.


The front has a small mansard  (learn more: François Mansart 1598–1666) which is a steeply sloped, almost wall like roof. This small roof section has three round louvered  vents made from tin set into asphalt shingles, the vents had missing and rusted through areas and were contributing to the leaks. The vents were probably original to the house but the asphalt shingles were probably installed 15 years ago when the original slate roof developed leaks.


Missing pieces had left the roof open to driving rain:


Since the house is registered all architectural elements need to be replaced exactly or with period specific materials. If you can see it from the street it has to look like a snapshot in time. The asphalt roof can be easily replaced with slate but the dormer vents were more of a challenge.

We removed one vent to bring back to the shop for precise measurement; of course we closed the hole in the roof.


After 3 months we had three new copper reproductions, these are identical in every way down to 1/16th of an inch to the originals. Since these are made from 16oz and 20oz copper they wont need paint and they’ll never rust.

round louver vent


Now the easy part: We replaced the old black flat roof with new White TPO over dense insulation board. This roof will make the upper floors of the house much more comfortable in the summer by reflecting most of the sun.


The mansard was covered with small 12×6 Buckingham slates; these slates will easily last 100+ years. Once the copper vents were set in place the whole job really came together. Eventually the copper louvers will turn to a bronze color, 10-15 years from now they will start to develop a green patina. In 100 years the roof will be replaced again, I hope the next roofer enjoys the job as much as I did.

You can click on any picture to enlarge it.


Thanks for reading,


(703) 299-8888

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