From one of our very early Lone Star state residential projects in Austin more than 20 years ago, to the many residential, institutional and state projects of today, North Country Slate has collaborated with leading architects and qualified slate roofing contractors to produce the most elegant roofs on some of the finest homes and most treasured buildings in Texas. We were proud to have had our North Country Unfading Black roofing slate chosen as the standard for the restoration of slate roofs on county courthouses under then Governor George W. Bush’s Texas Courthouse Preservation Program. This initiative, with the blessing of local architects and the Texas Historical Commission, lead to North Country Unfading Black being installed on 15 of these historic and iconic buildings across the state. With the absence of oxidizable iron pyrite found in many locally sourced slate roof shingles and its Class 3 and 4 hail rating, North Country Slate’s products are a natural choice for a color stable, beautiful and durable roof. Look for North Country Slate roofs in Dallas, Austin, Waxahachie, Lockhart, Emory, Llano, Halletsville, Denton, Lagrange, Goliad, Cuero, Houston, Temple, Westlake, Rockdale, Victoria, Richmond, Quanah, Franklin, Falfurrias, Sugar Land, Waco, San Antonio, Houston, Longview, Rockport and Abilene.
Texas Courthouses Restored to Original Glory
When the new Republic of Texas formed in 1836, the government quickly drew up counties and began building courthouses to create a civic foundation in the rugged landscape. Because it was the only capital expense that counties were allowed to finance over time, these elaborate courthouses were constructed using the very best construction materials of the day. During the “golden age” of peak courthouse construction in the 1880s and 90s, many were topped with black or dark gray slate, which was typical for distinguished buildings of that era. The courthouses soon became symbols of pride for the pioneers settling there. “One of the things that they could entice people with, was a very prestigious looking courthouse,” says Sharon Fleming, AIA, with the Texas Historical Commission (THC). “For many Texas communities today, it remains the very best building they have.” As part of a comprehensive program launched in 1999, historic courthouses throughout Texas are being restored. To match the original architectural designs, many are getting North Country Unfading Black roofing slate. To ensure historical accuracy, THC project manager Mark Cowan looks in attics and digs underground for slate shards to determine the original color. “When we’re excavating around the building, we look for original slate,” says Cowan. “We want the new slate to be a visual match with the original.” On all the projects he’s worked on so far, Cowan says North Country Unfading Black Slate is identical to the slate being replaced. The restoration process, which can involve the entire building envelope and last up to two years, ensures that the exterior not only looks like the original, but also will last for generations without needing repairs. Towers are a popular feature on many courthouses, but their accessibility demands an enduring roofing system. On the Fayette County Courthouse built in 1891, the original slate roof on the tower was replaced with North Country Unfading Black Slate using elaborate scaffolding that was custom designed by an engineer. The original towers of the Goliad County Courthouse were blown off during a tornado 50 years ago. Replacements were recently built in Oregon, given a North Country Unfading Black slate roof on the ground, and then lifted into place. “Slate holds up very well in this state provided you attach it in an appropriate manner,” says Cowan. In Texas, there’s an estimated 220 courthouses built before 1948 that are still standing. Many are still in use, but in need of repair. About half of the counties have applied for state grants to assist with restoration and North Country Slate has been supplier to ten projects requiring slate, with six more pending. Robert Weaver, president of Weaver Action Roofing, has been installing slate and tile for 25 years and has worked on several courthouses with North Country Slate. When working high up on the tallest edifice around, he often finds himself removing intact slate installed by his predecessor from the 1800s. “Slate will last that long if it’s on a steep pitch,” he says. “That’s the reason we like to do that kind of work. Hopefully, it’ll be there when we’re gone.”