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> Roofing for Historic
Buildings > Historic Roofing
Materials in America
Architectural Character ( roof section)
Types for roof:
impermeable membrane (flat, slightly pitched)
inspection using boom truck
Show these two types of tiles)(Example of tile roofing on
Breakers Mansion, Newport RI)
Architectural Conservation Audit Case
European settlers used clay tile for roofing as early as the mid-17th
century; many pantiles (S-curved tiles), as well as flat
roofing tiles, were used in Jamestown, Virginia. In some cities
such as New York and Boston, clay was popularly used as a precaution
against such fire as those that engulfed London in 1666 and scorched
Boston in 1679.
Tiles roofs found in the mid-18th-century Moravian settlements
in Pennsylvania closely resembled those found in Germany. Typically,
the tiles were 14 to 15" long, 67" wide with a curved
butt. A lug on the back allowed the tiles to hang on the lathing
without nails or pegs. The tile surface was usually scored with
finger marks to promote drainage. In the Southwest, the tile roofs
of the Spanish missionaries (mission tiles) were first manufactured
(ca. 1780) at the Mission San Antonio de Padua in California.
These semicircular tiles were made by molding clay over sections
of logs, and they were generally 22" long and tapered in width.
The plain or flat rectangular tiles most commonly used from the
17th through the beginning of the 19th century measured about 10"
by 6" by 1/2'', and had two holes at one end for a nail or
peg fastener. Sometimes mortar was applied between the courses to
secure the tiles in a heavy wind.
In the mid-19th century, tile roofs were often replaced by sheet
metal roofs, which were lighter and easier to install and maintain.
However, by the turn of the century, the Romanesque Revival
and Mission style buildings created a new demand and popularity
for this picturesque roofing material.
Add material from: Clay
for Historic Buildings, NPS