Constructed in 1893, Birmingham, Ala.,’s the Cathedral of St. Paul’s Gothic Revival design incorporates intricate, multicolored slate patterns on the main roof. It also includes several steeples, ornate copper cornices and dozens of unique architectural copper features commissioned specifically for the church more than a century ago.
In 1955, the church was extensively renovated and air conditioning was installed. In 1972, the church underwent structural repairs, and the sanctuary was remodeled. In 1922, exterior and interior ramps and doors were added to provide access for all to the church. Finally in 2013-14, the roof system was renovated by Midland Engineering Co. Inc., South Bend, Ind.
Following the Catholic archdiocese clear requirement that the new roof system be a historically accurate reproduction in materials, design and craftsmanship of the original roof system, Midland Engineering reproduced historically accurate slate patterns in multiple colors; six large slate crosses; dozens of copper finials and turrets; and more than 500 feet of copper cornices and radius gutters with matching straps.
As a result of thinning metal brought about by advanced age, every copper architectural and functional feature incorporated into the existing roof system had to be carefully removed and shipped 700 miles to Midland Engineering’s South Bend facility to be replicated in its metal shop.
More than 20,000 square feet of 16- and 20-ounce copper were used for custom-fabricating architectural elements and flashing. The off-site detailed copper fabrication work continued for the duration of the 11-month project while Midland Engineering’s on-site crew worked on the slate roof system. After removing the original slate roof and completing structural repairs, workers adhered Grace Ice & Water Shield to the deck and began to work on the slate roof.
Because of the noise inherent in roof construction, work schedules had to be planned around regular church services and rescheduled several times per month for funerals and other events.
In addition, Midland Engineering was tasked with upgrading the roof system to improve attic ventilation while maintaining the look of the Gothic Revival period.
After overcoming numerous scheduling and historical-accuracy challenges, Midland Engineering completed its work on The Cathedral of St. Paul in October 2014.
“The team’s work in piecing together such an intricate weave of slate and copper to restore our church’s beauty and keep it safe from water was such a marvel to behold,” says the Very Rev. Kevin Bazzel, VG, JCL, rector for The Cathedral of St. Paul.
Midland Engineering received a 2016 Gold Circle Award in the Outstanding Workmanship: Steep-slope category.
NRCA’s prestigious Gold Circle Award recognizes outstanding workmanship and contributions to the roofing industry, including unique roofing-related jobs, programs and services.