The main building of the museum has two levels of roofs because it follows the design of a basilica with the nave higher than the side aisles. Repair was required on both roof levels.
The main roof, 200 feet long, was originally cedar shingle painted with iron oxide, giving it a brick red color while also acting as a fire retardant. At some point (date unknown), a black asphalt roof was placed over the original shingles. The asphalt roof was deteriorating (high winds blew tiles off for years). By 1990, funds became available to make repairs.
The first step was to remove the old asphalt and put a new asphalt roof over the original cedar shingles. Unfortunately, within one week, the asphalt shingles began to blow off. It was determined that all of the original cedar shingles along with the newly laid asphalt shingles would need to be removed (we learned from this experience that taking short cuts wastes time and funds).
A new set of asphalt shingle tiles was purchased and repairs began again by 2000 (the desired shingles were going out of production, but we managed to get an ample supply in the proper color with plenty to spare). Following OSHA regulations, contracted workers were tied in to the main roof to do the repair work (using gear with braces anchored into steel support posts that were placed along the roof’s ridge). Unencumbered by scaffolding, they were able to easily direct tiles into the truck below, removing 40 feet per day, completing the roof in five days.
Felt paper proved too difficult to handle because of the high winds. Therefore, plywood sheathing was placed over the entire roof as ice and water shield. Each tile was glued in place and secured with six nails. The final result is an asphalt roof that resembles wooden shingles close to the original brick red color of 1910. Building codes did not permit the use of cedar shingles roof primarily because of the risk of fire. Final restoration and repair of the main roof was completed in 1996.
The lower roofs, the same length as the main roof, were also compromised. Instead of asphalt tiles, steel was used as a surface to better control water and ice. Elastomeric primer and paint in its original color of rusty red was used to seal the metal to help prevent leaks (maintaining a modern waterproof seal, outlasting previous materials by more than a decade). As rubber paint, it expands and contracts at the same rate as the metal. The paint provides a slippery surface for winter snow to glide off and insulates the roof from lightening. The chapel roof was repaired in 1995 in the same asphalt tiles as the main roof. Final restoration and repair of the lower roof was completed in 2008.
Funders and Supporters
- Libra Foundation
- Audrey and Larry Thibodeau
- Michaud and Sirois Construction