After Nearly Two Centuries of Wear, U.Va.’s West Range Roofs to Receive New Slates

While the roof work on the University of Virginia’s Rotunda is largely complete – all it lacks is a coat of white paint, once dry weather arrives – roof work will continue at the Academical Village.

This summer, crews will replace the slate roofs atop the West Range rooms. The framing, sheathing and much of the slate on the roofs date to the original installation period in the 1830s. The project is expected to cost around $800,000.

“The existing slate roofs encapsulate the original Jeffersonian serrated roofs,” said James D.W. Zehmer, historic preservation project manager in Facilities Management’s planning and construction department. “Over the past 190 years, they have served their purpose of protecting these important historic buildings, but it is now time to undertake a comprehensive replacement project.”

The roofs have been repaired over the years, but the original slates were 18 to 24 inches square, and it was getting difficult to replace them. The new roof slates will be 16-by-10-inch rectangles. The old slate will be removed from the West Range roofs and replaced, along with flashings, ridge caps and gutters. The framing and sheathing will be repaired as needed, but is mostly in good condition, Zehmer said.

The new slate will come from a quarry in Buckingham. Zehmer said the slate for the original roofs probably came from the same area.

Scaffolding is scheduled to be erected around all of the buildings on the West Range starting Wednesday. Some work may also be performed on the hotel loggia roofs.

Zehmer said the work will be noticed. “The demolition phase of work and the installation of slate roofing is a loud, noisy process, involving seemingly constant hammering,” he said.

While the scaffolding is being erected, the Alderman Library bus stop on the southbound side of McCormick Road will be the staging area. A large truck will be parked at the bus stop and a forklift will transport scaffolding and roofing material to the Lawn. The alleys will undergo temporary closures throughout the project for material delivery and debris removal.

The major construction period for the roof work is from June 10 to Aug. 15, with some minor construction work anticipated after the students start moving back into the Range rooms on Aug. 16. The project should be completed by the end of September. The work is tentatively scheduled to take place weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The work will be performed by roofing contractors with experience on slate roofs at the University, though the final contracts have not yet been awarded.

The slate was replaced on the south end of the East Range last summer and there are plans to replace it on the north end next year.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications