Work begins!

In the beginning there was water. This saga started five years ago with water dripping through the kitchen and bathroom ceilings. After applying much talk and caulk in the interim, we've finally started the first phase of preserving the exterior surfaces of Newport's South Church.

The roofers arrived this morning and have been stripping the north-east portion of the Fellowship Hall addition. This section of the roof was covered with brittle and broken slate shingles, hung on top of a layer of wooden shingles. Both have been removed, and new plywood sheathing is ready to install over the existing boards. That will be covered with ice & water shield, copper valleys and flashing added, followed by 50-year GAF architectural shingles, which were a grudging concession to the extraordinary expense of installing a new slate roof.

Our goal is to preserve the historic materials used to construct the church, but here are the facts: (1) the existing slate was beyond repair, (2) replacing slate on just this portion of the roof would increase our expenses by over $30,000, jeopardizing other needed work, and (3) the slate was old but not original (the underlying wooden shingles were probably the original layer from 1871). 

The no-slate decision was informed by professional roofers, by our preservation architect, by the NH Preservation Alliance, by the director of the state's LCHIP program, and by the state's Division of Historical Resources. All agreed that in the interest of preserving the greater building, the slate roof on Fellowship Hall was a regrettable but reasonable sacrifice. Perhaps some future congregation will be able to restore the slate, which remains the most cost-effective material available — if only you can afford to pay 3 to 5 times the cost of other roofing materials.

© New Hampshire Steeples, 2012