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Lift and Relay of Gracemont Mansion (The Bush School)

The Bush School

Russ Vieselmeyer www.lrs-construction.com is a roofing contractor based in Tacoma, Washington. LRS serves the Greater Puget Sound area but has traveled to neighboring states for special projects. Russ is a Certified Installer with the Tile Roofing Institute, recently renewing by attending the class in Louisville, CO. Gracemont Mansion is a historic building on the The Bush School campus in Seattle, Washington.

Here’s a Q and A with Russ about the work on this historic building.

The Bush School Lift & Relay
1. Why do you work with tile.
I choose to work with tile & metal over other materials for several reasons. I like the fact that tile is easily recycled and restored. When working with tile and metal you can show true craftsmanship. When working with clay tile you have the opportunity to restore history and add your own touch of craftsmanship that will last for 75 to 100 years. Restoration/renovation work usually takes a craftsman to pull it off. True craftsman are a dying breed. A customer looking for quality and craftsmanship will usually pay more so more profit in the jobs.

2. Did you ever determine actual original installation date?
Ludowici TileI do not know the exact installation date but assume the roof was installed in 1917. Every Ludowici-Celadon clay tile had the day it was made on it from 10-23-1914 to 09-21-1915. Each tile was also stamped Chicago and under that Imperiai Tile. Gracemont Mansion broke ground in 1916 and was complete in 1918. In 1944 The Helen Bush School purchased Gracemont.

3. How much of the tile were you able to salvage?
I was able to salvage roughly 85% of the clay tile, although roughly 10% of the roof had been repaired over the last 98 years with a replacement tile made by Ludowici. The original size of the flat-interlocking clay tile was 7-3/4 wide by 10-3/4 long. The clay tile used for the repairs was 8in. wide by 11in. long. At the end of the project I installed one section of roof, approximately 2.5 squares, with a current Ludowici flat-interlocking tile. I had roughly 200 pcs of the original clay tile left over to include some trim pcs. There was a bay window on the backside of the building where I salvaged tile and trim from and installed a 20oz standing seam copper roof on the bay window.

4. What was the biggest challenge of the project?
The biggest challenge was meeting the 7 week deadline before school started and salvaging all the hip and ridge pcs embedded in mortar. It took me 60 hours to remove 210 ft. of ridge and 40 ft. of hip. I salvaged 95% of the trim. It took exactly 7 weeks to complete the project with a crew of 4…me being one of the four.

5. To reduce moss and algae growth you have applied Nan-sulate on other clay roofs in the Pacific Northwest. I know you had intended to apply it to these tile. How did that go?
I did not install the Nansulate Crystal. After pressure washing and cleaning the tile I soon realized the clay tile had a glazing on it. The glazing on the tile was in great shape and I didn’t feel the tile needed it. I truly believe the clay tile will last another 100 plus years. The tile is amazingly strong and the glazing on the tile shows little wear.

6. What underlayment did you use?
I applied two layers of 40# SBS Modified Fiberglass Reinforced Underlayment. Boral Ply 40.

The Bush School Chimney   The Bush School Copper      
7. The copper flashing work looks great. Was this an upgrade from the original?
All the roof flashings were replaced with 20oz copper. Original roof had 16oz copper flashings that corroded and failed. I wanted to step it up with 20oz copper since the copper failed before the clay tile.

8. The Seattle Summer cooperated with your schedule and you are done. The kids are back in school. Approximately how many squares is the roofing and how long did the project take?
The roof area is approximately 5800 square feet. It took exactly 7 weeks to complete the project but we worked 6 days a week 10 to 12 hours a day.

9. How does it feel to be done?
I really do not think the job could have gone any smoother. I’m happy we’re done and appreciate the honor of being a part of the history and tile roof that will be on the Bush School’s Gracemont Mansion for another 100 years.

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