Supported by four fluted Doric columns and topped with a three-tiered tower at the rear, the 153-year-old Lapeer County Courthouse in Lapeer, Mich., is a striking example of the Greek Revival architectural style. It also happens to be one of the 10 oldest continuously active courthouses in the United States.
This honor is understandably a source of community pride - its image is incorporated into the logos for Lapeer County and the City of Lapeer - and many throughout the county have donated money over the years toward the upkeep of this historic landmark. Over the past 25 years, the Lapeer County Board has raised approximately $1.5 million for important renovations to the structure. However, when it recently came time to put a new roof on the courthouse, the county’s government was left wondering where the funds would come from.
“We had put a 25-year asphalt shingle on the courthouse in 1981, so it was overdue for a new roof,” said Joseph Stock, Lapeer County operations director. “Fortunately, we were about 95 percent finished with our planned renovations at that point, but after already investing $1.5 million in the restoration, we weren’t looking forward to having to put on a new roof. We needed a new roof quickly, though, because the shingles were curling and our maintenance supervisor said the roof could spring a leak any day.”
But, help was on the way. When the County approached local family-owned roofing company Stratton Roofing and Siding, of North Branch, Mich., to ask for help with the re-roof, Stratton Roofing graciously offered to supply the materials and labor, free of charge.
“The Lapeer County Courthouse needed a new roof, and we wanted to help out,” said Joe Stratton, owner of Stratton Roofing. “That building is basically the icon of Lapeer as a city and a county. We’re an old county, and we like to keep our historic landmarks looking good.”
The next step was selecting a shingle that would provide long-lasting durability and complement the historic design of the courthouse. Since research and old photos indicate that the courthouse’s original roofing material was probably cedar shakes, the County wanted an asphalt composite shingle with an authentic shake look. After reviewing a few different products, the Lapeer County Board unanimously chose CertainTeed Presidential Shake TL luxury shingles in the color Chaparral Cedar.
“We wanted to get the new roof as close to the style and color of what the courthouse likely would have had when it was built, and we all thought the CertainTeed Presidential Shake shingles accomplished that,” Stock said.
Stratton Roofing used a 60-foot articulation lift to reach the roof of the six-story courthouse, which was 45 feet off the ground with a pitch of 9:12. Given the precarious height, crewmembers wore safety harnesses, hard hats and non-skid roofer boots.
The crew removed several deteriorated T-lock interlocking shingles, as well as earlier roofing materials under them, eventually finding that the roof had no sheathing.
“We didn’t anticipate that there was no sheathing on this roof- from the way it appeared before we started, we thought it had been done years ago,” Stratton recalled. “This presented the biggest challenge of the project because we had to figure out how to get all those plywood sheets up on the roof.”
The crew was able to load the plywood sheets onto the articulation lift and carry them up to the roof, allowing them to install the roof deck and begin installing the new roof system. The new roof consisted of CertainTeed Roofers Select™ underlayment, CertainTeed WinterGuard™ Waterproofing Underlayment, 50 squares of Presidential Shake TL luxury shingles and CertainTeed Presidential hip and ridge accessory. The underlayment and shingles went down easily and created a beautiful, classic shake look for the roof.
The crew installed copper flashing around the roof and on the courthouse tower, which rises to nearly 90 feet - the highest elevation in Lapeer County. In all, the job took two weeks, with the total donation amounting approximately to $150,000. If the many positive reviews received from the Lapeer County Board and the citizens of Lapeer County can be considered as evidence, the project was a big success.
“We’re very happy with the new roof, and we’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it,” said Stock. “I’m very pleased with the color of the shingles - when you walk down the street from the courthouse, you can see them very well, and they look great.”
“We’re very thankful for Stratton Roofing’s generous donation,” Stock added. “A new roof is one of the standard high-cost maintenance items you occasionally encounter when dealing with a historic building, so we’re hoping this new roof will last us for many years to come.”