Preserving History: Register Roofing Replaces Roof at Historic Plum Orchard Mansion

Lincoln Register on top of the Plum Orchard Mansion

Summary

Plum Orchard mansion is a gem nestled in the Cumberland Island National Seashore in Southeast Georgia. The estate was originally built by the Carnegie family in the 1890s and is now on the National Register of Historic Places and managed by the United States National Park Service. 

Today, Plum Orchard receives thousands of visitors annually. Inaccessible by car, tourists who make the trek are awed by the historic preservation and the glimpse into Edwardian High Society at the turn of the 20th century.

The cedar shake roof on the Plum Orchard mansion was experiencing significant leakage and other issues despite being less than 20 years old. The National Park Service needed a reliable, durable roof replacement system to protect the unique finishes and high-end attributes housed within the beautiful structure. Jacksonville, Florida, engineering firm GM HILL called on the experience, resourcefulness, and capability of Register Roofing to partner in designing and installing the perfect solution.

Services Provided

The Challenge

National Park Service rules require that any preservation work performed provides the same look as the original construction to maintain the historical accuracy of the property. Cedar Shake Roofs, like the one commissioned by the Carnegie family during original construction, are beautiful, but not exceptionally durable, particularly in the harsh climate of Coastal Georgia. 

Re-roofing with a true, cut wood cedar shake solution would find the National Park Service in need of a new roofing system again within the next 20 years. How do we match the historical appearance and upgrade the roof, so it lasts longer?

The historic mansion also contained many low-sloped roof areas not visible from ground level as well. These sections were responsible for many of the leaks the property was experiencing and required a different, yet equally durable roofing system.

There were logistical obstacles too. Cumberland Island cannot be reached by road, which makes it a difficult place to work. All materials, equipment, and crew would have to be delivered by boat. 

Providing a sustainable roofing solution for Plum Orchard required a commercial roofing contractor who had experience working with historic buildings and possessed the resources necessary to support a long-term, complex project.

The Solution

By being involved early on in the design phase, our team was able to recommend a composite solution by DaVinci Roofscapes that matched the look of traditional cedar shake roofing but essentially doubled the roof’s life expectancy. Natural cedar shake roofing begins showing its age shortly after installation. DaVinci Roofscapes’ composite roofing system maintains its beauty, provides better protection and is easier to install. The ease of installation enabled us to complete the durable composite cedar shake project for roughly the exact cost of installing a true-wood cedar shake roof.

The low-slope areas of the roof required a different solution to combat moisture that could pool there temporarily.  For these sections, we installed tapered insulation after removing the existing roof. Our team then covered this with a Johns Manville cold-applied modified bitumen roofing system.

Additionally, the National Park Service required copper gutters to complete the roof installation. By fabricating all of the gutters at our in-house metal shop, we saved them additional time and money. 

Since we consulted on and completed every phase of the project, we could be assured of a perfect fit, finish, and installation.

Register Roofing was proud to provide consultative solutions to the National Park Service and play a role in preserving a historic landmark like Plum Orchard. 

Historic preservation is just one of our areas of expertise. We are also a full-service commercial roofer with the experience, resources, and capability to address the unique requirements of your building. 

If you need a commercial roofing contractor, you need Register Roofing. Contact us today for your tailored solution.

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Results

Re-roofing Plum Orchard was a win for all parties involved. Visitors to the beautiful, historic mansion can be taken back in time by the historically accurate architecture. Register Roofing was able to assist in the restoration of a prized treasure from America’s history, and the National Park Service was provided with a long-term solution to a costly, recurring problem.

The DaVinci composite cedar shake roof is warrantied for 20 years by the manufacturer, and it is not unrealistic to believe the material could last for up to 50 years. The Johns Manville modified bitumen system comes standard with a 20-year no cost warranty as well.

Register Roofing utilized internal teams to install both types of roofing systems and perform all necessary metal work at Plum Orchard. This versatility and capability saved the National Park Service tremendous time and expense.

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