Leading the Grambling State University football team for 57 years, Eddie G. Robinson achieved legendary status by posting an unprecedented 408 wins and becoming the most victorious coach in the history of NCAA Division I football. Throughout his career, the well-liked and respected football coach served as a mentor and father figure to his players, many of whom went on to play and coach in the National Football League.
In 1999, two years after “Coach Rob” retired, the Louisiana State Legislature approved the establishment of a museum on the Grambling State campus in Grambling, La., as a tribute to the coach’s illustrious career. The purpose of this museum would be to collect, preserve and exhibit art, documents archives and other artifacts that reflect Robinson’s life and coaching career. After nine years of fundraising, planning and design, Grambling State was able to begin the project in 2008, a year after Robinson’s death.
Grambling State hired Zac Construction Inc. of Shreveport, La., as general contactor to renovate and convert the university’s 85-year-old Women’s Memorial Gymnasium into the Eddie G. Robinson Museum. The gymnasium was a special place for Robinson, as it had been where he had held his pep rallies during football seasons. The historical building is a wood structure with brick veneer, designed in the Colonial architecture style, a common design theme across the campus.
Zac Construction gutted the interior of the building and in early 2009 it was time to put a new roof up. They subcontracted the re-roofing portion of the project to Corporate Roofing, also of Shreveport. The existing shingles on the gymnasium were not past their prime, but the project’s architects, The Newman Partnership Inc. of Shreveport, wanted a complete renovation and a fresh, new look. Plus, it was important to match the roof with the new roof of Long Jones Hall, an adjacent administrative building, which features CertainTeed Landmark Plus premium designer shingles in Moiré Black.
“We re-roofed Long Jones Hall about a year ago with the Landmark Plus shingles, and those two buildings sit about 40 feet apart,” said Steve Kinel, owner of Corporate Roofing. “They are part of six buildings laid out in a horseshoe-style pattern. The university is planning to gradually re-roof all of these buildings so all of their roofs will match.”
The Landmark Plus shingles were also chosen for their 40-year limited transferable warranty and five-year wind resistance warranty, protecting against winds of up to 80 miles per hour - a strong advantage in the storm-prone Gulf Coast.
Corporate Roofing began tearing off the existing roof in January, with a crew of eight, alongside the Zac Construction crew. Encountering heavy rains every three or four days, the crews experienced some delays early on.
“Nobody likes to roof in January and February, but when it’s time, it’s time,” Walker said.
“The rains slowed the process down a bit,” Kinel added. “We had to keep the roof watertight, so we worked around the weather. We couldn’t just tear off the shingles and let the deck get wet. We just tore off when the weather was good.”
Following the tear-off of the existing roof, Zac Construction replaced parts of the wood roof deck that had deteriorated and made other repairs along the roof’s perimeter, while Corporate Roofing began installing the new roofing material. The crew first nailed down a layer of synthetic felt roofing underlayment. Though the pitch of the roof, at 7/12, wasn’t extremely steep, the roof has a considerable height, ranging from 22 to 30 feet off the ground, with three elevations. The ridge above the entrance is 42 feet high, requiring workers to wear ropes and harnesses for their safety.
Corporate Roofing next installed 180 squares of Landmark Plus shingles over the underlayment. This portion of the project went smoothly and took three weeks. After the installation of step flashing and counterflashing, the roofing portion of the job was complete.
Corporate Roofing, having done other projects with Zac Construction at Grambling State, once again received good reviews for its work.
“The new shingles look great on the building,” Walker said. “Corporate Roofing always does a terrific job.”
Interior design of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum is being done by museum exhibit producers Murphy & Orr Exhibits of Forest Park, Ga. The many fans of the late great Coach Robinson will be able to get a true taste of Grambling State football history when the museum opens.