Note: This post has been heavily modified to remove strong language.
Driving past Hattiesburg yesterday under a brooding sky, I decided to swing by Eaton School, which I supposed must have a new roof by now, given that the Hattiesburg American article two weeks ago indicated it was supposed to go on that week. As you might recall, the entire roof structure of Eaton School (1905)–listed on the National Register and designated as a Mississippi Landmark–was being replaced due to major rotting in the original timbers, but due to either the architect’s or the contractor’s mistake, the first set of trusses was built at an incorrect slope, leaving the roof much lower than the original. So, they had to get another set made, meanwhile, inexplicably leaving the school completely open to the elements, with no attempt at ameliorating the situation. The graphic photo in the Hattiesburg American of the building two weeks ago still makes my blood run cold.
But surely, I thought, I will find the new roof snugly on the building, protecting it from the latest rains and allowing the building to begin to dry out. Imagine my surprise when I came upon the building, yes, with the beginnings of a roof on it, but still in every way exposed to the elements! While this new roof appears to be the right slope (using the existing chimney as a gauge), the trusses look warped and aren’t braced yet. If these went up late last week, why in the world didn’t the contractor work through the weekend to get the building buttoned up? Is this incompetence, negligence, or both? Obviously the architect was in error with the original roof, but I’m also puzzled by the lack of urgency shown by the contractor. The interior of this building is beautiful beadboard–what kind of shape is that going to be in after this is all over? Whose bond company is going to pay for all the extra repairs that will be needed on the interior?
As I drove north, I hit some nasty rain and I guess all we can do is hope that Hattiesburg didn’t get the same storm last night because that’s just another couple of inches of rain pouring into this poor building.