“Are you interested in Roofing?” Apparently at the turn of the 20th century an unknown Biloxi builder was, as Montross Metal Shingles are featured prominently on several Biloxi structures.
While many companies produced a pressed metal shingle the Montross Metal Shingle Co. held many of the patents on the patterns and production methods of some of the most popular shingles. The Montross Metal Shingle Company–later to become the Montross Metal Roofing Company–was based in Camden, New Jersey. Owner Levi Montross sold his shingles nation-wide, from the founding of his company in 1889 until the Montross family sold the company thirty years later in 1919. His obituary in the October 1st, 1914, edition of The Iron Age magazine credits Montross as the inventor of metal shingles.
In the late 19th century steel became much cheaper to produce than it had before. It could be rolled thinner than iron and have greater flexibility. This allowed for a stamped design that could show greater detail and be of lighter weight. Galvanization, which is the coating of iron or steel with zinc to prevent rusting was also perfected and industrialized during this time.
Most metal shingle manufactures of the day galvanized the sheet metal before the shingle was stamped. This process of stamping would cause the galvanization to break. The success of the Montross shingles longevity seems to come from the fact that they were stamped then galvanized. Another reason for the metal shingles’ popularity was the fact that they were a very inexpensive fire-proof surface. Popular Montross patterns were the “Diamond”, the “Gothic”, and the “Victor”. In advertisements buildings were shown having shingles both in the gable ends and on the roof, often using a different shingle to signify a different surface. Other popular shingles patterns were the “Octagon” and the “Eastlake” both of which resembled a modern-day three-tab shingle. As far as I am aware, all shingle patterns were available during the thirty years of the Montross family’s operation of the company.
The photographs above show stamped sheet steel imitating wood shingle. On each house the stampings are different. The example photographs are all located in Biloxi. Several houses in Biloxi that utilized Montross shingles were destroyed during Katrina. Metal shingles were an affordable material that became popular with the emerging middle class. The development of the West End neighborhood of Biloxi occurred c.1895-1905 as stamped sheet steel siding was at its height of popularity. I am unaware of any other examples of Montross Metal Shingles existing on the coast today.
Do you recognize some of these shingle pattens from your neck of the woods? If so please share!