A new do for Standard Oil

Along with others in downtown Jackson, I’m sure, I’ve been watching the re-roof of the elegant Standard Oil Building across from the War Memorial Building for the last couple of months. One of the things you notice right off about the Standard Oil Building is its red/orange barrel tile roof, which adds texture and character to this Spanish Colonial Revival building. Although tile roofs do have a much longer lifetime than normal asphalt shingles (they don’t outlast the old asbestos tile though!), they do eventually develop problems, most often due to deterioration in the underlayment and broken tiles from people walking on the roof, rattling from high winds, or whatnot. The great thing about replacing a tile roof is that you don’t have to rip it all off and start over–you can re-use all but the broken tiles. The not-so-great thing is that to get to the broken tile, you pretty much have to remove all the tile, examine each one, and then put them all back, replacing only the broken tiles.

Built in 1926, the Standard Oil’s roof is about 85 years old, and like most 85 year olds, it needed a little tune up. The roofing company was Guaranteed Roofing out of Pearl, and it looks like they took care to do the job right. I was intrigued to find out that the decking of the roof is metal, and I hear from occupants in the building that the clammer from the roofing job is one thing they won’t miss now that it’s over. If you look carefully in the pictures below, taken over the last couple of months since the beginning of the job, you can see that the tiles actually rest on wood two-by-fours, and I supposed these provide a little support as well as act as nailers.

The National Park Service has a concise page that examines clay tile roofs and traces their history from the time Adam and Eve placed one on their second home (no, not really, but wouldn’t that be cool?). As that publication notes:

Tile as a material often outlasts its attachments, if not the building itself, a point made in an 1884 treatise, Bricks, Tile, Terra Cotta, Etc.: “After doing service on one structure it can be taken off and used on other buildings.”

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Categories: Historic Preservation, Jackson, Renovation Projects

10 replies

  1. I’ve been wondering when this might show up here! It was a most interesting process, wasn’t it?

    When they tore down the Alamo Plaza motel court on Highway 80, my father took us to see if we could find any reusable roof tiles (it was common for us to scavenge this way during my childhood plus he had designed our house in the Spanish colonial style). I think it turned out that only the streetside facade roof was tiled and that they’d done their best breaking every one while wrecking the buildings.

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    • Losing the Alamo was a real loss to Jackson, but at least you can say it happened before people were really thinking of preserving those kinds of sites. The Alamo in Gulfport, which was still all there and in decent (not great) condition last time I saw it c.2002, was torn down a little while before Katrina, well after someone should have had a better idea about it. Especially since it was just a block from the casino, seems like it would have been a slam-dunk renovation and re-use as a motel again.

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  2. I love the Standard Oil Building but cannot stand the annex on the west side of the building.

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  3. My house in Vicksburg needed a similar clay tile roof rejuvenation after damage from Hurricane Katrina and some earlier hail storms. It is a high-skill job, and few roofers can be trusted now to do the work properly. In the 1920s and 1930s, many of Vicksburg’s finer homes had clay roofs, but over time, most were removed when their owners were unwilling to do the repairs properly or were told by unscrupulous roofers that “You don’t want those old-fashioned tiles, do you?” The tiles were fireproof in an era when many people burned coal and coal cinders sometimes blew up chimneys and lands on adjacent roofs.

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  4. The addition on the front (State St. side) of the Standard Oil Building needs to GO!

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  5. Agreed, Nan and JXNNative, but it looks like they’ve just fixed that part up for new renters, so I don’t think it will be going anywhere anytime soon. Originally there was a service station on that side, so the Amite Street side has always been the formal front to the building.

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  6. I can not imagine that building without its signature red tile roof. It’s a much-ovelooked landmark of Jackson in my opinion.

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  7. One reason that we can’t stand the annex on the west side is that it doesn’t match the architectural style (or color) of the Chevron building.

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