Mansard Roof – Part 1

Two years in the making, this summer, we embark on the biggest project the house has seen this century, restoring the mansard roof.


When we first set eyes on the house in 2019, we knew the roof would need some work. The extant of work would take time to unravel. In this post, we will review the history and details that make up this victorian mansard roof, along with covering the scope of work and timeline.

Here are a collection of photos showing the roof over the years.

Slate Mansard

We have spent the past two years working with consultants and contractors and researching the best path ahead for the mansard roof.

Delaminating slate on the west side

The Problem

The current slate roof faces three major issues:

  1. The slate was painted in the 1990s, and as a result, many tiles are beginning to delaminate.
  2. Most of the slate is Pennsylvania black, with a life span of about 100 years.
  3. A major valley flashing is beginning to fail, resulting in a leak that was “fixed” only to be undone by the expansion/contraction during the winter.

We hired a consultant in 2020 to assess the slate. Even though the slate had been painted, we were given a life expectancy of around 20 years. The primary issue is the combination of the delaminating slate and the failing flashing. Exploring the cost of fixing a major valley became the motivator for looking at the whole mansard roof.

The Solution

Some of the black and green slate that recently arrived.

We are replacing the slate with Vermont S1 grade slate, which has a life span of up to 200 years. We are closely matching the same “floral” pattern with a combination of black, green, and red slate tiles. All flashing is being replaced with 20-ounce copper, and the original inlaid gutters are being brought back to life.

Sorry, honey, your dream kitchen will need to wait.

– A brave husband named Michael

While the slate makes up most of what you see on the mansard roof, there is a lot of water management from restoring the built-in gutters, copper flashing, and dormers.

Architectural Built-in Gutters

Restoring the original built-in gutters is nearly equal in scope and complexity to replacing the slate. In the 1990s, the original built-in gutters were covered with galvanized steel, and aluminum k-style gutters were hung. We are going back to the original built-in gutters with 20-ounce copper.

The k-style gutter hung on the outside of the covered original built-in gutter.
The rusting covered built-in gutters with the k-style hung on the outside.


Most of the metal work on the house is terne-coated steel. Three barrel dormers need restoration. Terne-coated steel requires painting and can show signs of rust in as little as a year 1. To preserve the architectural detail, the rust will be cleaned up, and a special coating applied.

An angle showing two of the barrel dormers.


The upper crown has seen better days. One of the first items is extracting a sample of the crown and sending it to our millwork company in St. Louis for reproduction. We are working with the same millwork company that has reproduced the interior casing seen in the library restoration.

The crown below the ridge cap is at the end of life.

Upper Gutters

When the flat roof above the mansard was installed in the 1990s, a k-style gutter was hung and painted red. We are replacing the aluminum gutter with copper, which will sit right above the new crown. Custom copper scupper boxes are being fabricated with 3-inch downspouts leading to the inlaid gutter.

Photo of the mansard roof in 1989 with original scupper boxes before the roof was painted.


The backside of the mansard features a skylight door. It is the only window for one of the third-floor bedrooms and acts as an emergency exit. We are replacing the skylight door with a custom-ordered replacement from Velux coming from Denmark.

Radius Hip / Ridge

As mentioned, most of the metal is terne-coated steel. The radius hips and the ridge behind the front parapet will be replaced with copper.

Soffit & Fascia

The south-facing side of the house needs the most work. The number one issue was when the gutter system was hung in the 1990s; it was not continued all the way around. As a result, water has been running over the fascia and brick for decades. We are going to solve this problem by rebuilding the inlaid gutter. From there, we can replace the soffit and fascia. At a later point, we plan on repointing this side of the house.


Below is an overview of where we are at the time of writing.

  • We finalized the construction plan in February. The goal was to start work in late spring.
  • The Vermont slate is ordered in March.
  • In late March, we learned there was a delay for the Vermont Black due to slowdowns at the quarry. Either we go with a Vermont Gray Black or wait an additional ten weeks for the Vermont Black. We chose to wait for the black, which closely matches what is original to the roof. Waiting for the black slate pushed the timeline from late spring into early summer.
  • The slate arrived in St. Louis in May. We are waiting on the copper and for the team to free up from their current project.
  • Scaffolding is erected the week of July 4th. First up is removing the existing roof, shoring up the decking for underlayment, and beginning work on the inlaid gutters.

Thank you for reading, Michael and Alexandria Morgan

  1. The Slate Roof Bible by Joseph Jenkins, Third Edition, page 285[]

Restoring the Library – Part 3

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the library restoration.

The restoration of the library continues with a focus on refinishing the floor and recreating the doorway to the Men’s parlor.


The floor was quite literally a jigsaw puzzle for such a compact room. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on antique donor wood, which we reworked into the disrupted areas due to the previous kitchen.


We were surprised in Part 2 to discover a doorway to the Men’s parlor. The hard part was bringing back the original plinths, casing, rosettes, baseboards and more. We spent quite a bit of time scouring for artifacts looking for the originals in the basement. At times we got lucky, such as having the original door that fits like a glove. We also had several plinths and rosettes. When it came to the casing, we were not so lucky. We ended up having to recreate all of the casing on both sides of the doors.

Original used as the source to turn two new rosettes.


It is fun to look back on how much this space has changed, from a second B&B kitchen to being carefully restored to a library. We’re now in the home stretch of finishing this room! Next up is paint.


Restoring the Library – Part 2

Be sure to check out part 1 of the library restoration.

The library has seen significant progress since removing the second kitchen this summer. Here is where we left off for reference:

After removing the second kitchen used by the bed and breakfast.

The first order of business, remove the layers of flooring, and expose the original wood:

To the left, evidence of a fireplace. The house originally had six marble fireplaces, only one original remain in the dining room.

The original wood underneath is in much better condition than we expected. There are three square openings for vents and various holes for plumbing the kitchen that will need to be plugged.

Next, we move on to the casing and trim around the historic window. This project was an undertaking, and we were fortunate to be working with a talented carpenter that was excited to take on the effort. Here is a picture of what we started with:

A little bit of everything was needed, from casing to filling holes, baseboard moulding, and intricate trim.

From casing to trim, there was a lot to put back in order:

Upon careful inspection, we know there was originally a doorway walled off leading from the library to the bathroom connected to the men’s parlor. We decided to give it a go and open it up:

To our surprise, the door jam was left in great shape. We also found the original door in the basement; perfect match!

Matt Heaney confirming the door fits! Nearly all of the doors and windows in the house are different sizes.
A new perspective emerges seeing the beautiful library window from the bathroom.
The library only had one entrance and always felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the house. Space flows much better with the door-way opened up.

What’s next? The final effort of this room is waiting on the following:

  • When we removed the walled-off doorway, we introduced a new problem: We don’t have enough original casing moulding to surround the door. We had the moulding custom milled in St. Louis. It’s now complete and ready for pick up.
  • The library originally had a marble fireplace. We have a hand-carved marble fireplace mantel surround coming in from New York scheduled to arrive this week. It took Alexandria months to make a decision, and it’s beautiful!
  • The transom above the door we opened up was originally stained glass, and we are working on having a replacement reproduced. It’s an interesting architectural element given that the transom “goes nowhere” but is there for consistency. We found that power was run to light the transom.

While our primary focus for 2020 has been on the exterior, we are excited about the progress of restoring our first room. We’re planning on posting updates on the victorian porch soon, so keep an eye out!

Thank you for reading,

Michael and Alexandria Morgan


Restoring the Library – Part 1

When a house is used as a bed and breakfast for several decades, there are many remnants left behind. One such remnant is the second kitchen used for guest meals. We knew this space deserved more and decided it was the ideal candidate for the first room to undergo a full restoration.

The second kitchen before careful extraction.

The appliances and cabinets were in good condition, and fortunately, we were able to find a family that could take it all off our hands. My father-in-law was in town visiting from Florida, and together, we carefully dismantled the kitchen.

When we moved the cabinet holding the kitchen sink, we were delighted to see the original wood molding. Several pieces of trim were removed in order to install the cabinets. Lucky enough, we found nearly all of the missing trim piled together in a crawl space under the house.

Excited to uncover the original wood molding!

The library is an impressive little space. It is one of the rare areas with a builtin, has one of the largest windows in the house, and, for its size, originally had a fireplace. We also discovered a door had been walled off leading into the bathroom.

The next step in restoring the library is carefully pulling up the new flooring with the goal is restoring the original wood underneath, along with installing the original wood trim and opening up the door to the bathroom. Stay tuned!

The library after the second kitchen was removed.
Trim with original handmade nails intact, with a near-perfect match!

Let there be light!

We heard it had been a long time since the front lamp shined bright, and now it shines again! We discovered that a portion of the electricity to the front of the house was cut (likely many years ago). It wasn’t until removing drywall in the basement that we came across the old junction box that provided power to not only the front lamp post but also the porch light and a portion of the outlets in the lady’s parlor.