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.”