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President James Buchanan’s Wheatland

Lancaster, PA

Historical Restoration: Slate, Metal Trim

January 2020

Born from the vision of architect William Jenkins in 1828; Wheatland will always be known as the home of President James Buchanan. The James Buchanan Foundation for the Preservation of Wheatland and LancasterHistory have worked to preserve the property for future generations since 1936. Our relationship with the property began a “few” years later with general maintenance and roof repairs and continues to evolve with each buildings roofing needs.  With so much rich history to preserve we are honored to be entrusted with the Wheatland properties roofing needs.

That relationship continued when the mansion roof was in need of replacement last year. This project required a balance of new materials mixed with old world craftsmanship to increase the roofs life expectancy with detailed attention to preserve the historical integrity of the mansion. The existing soft vein Lehigh Valley slate roof system was failing before its 50-60 years life expectancy. North Country slate was chosen for this roof system because of its hard vein and longer life expectancy of 100+ years.  In order to maintain appearance, the slate had to be specially cut to a quite large 22” x 11”.

With the new slate roof came new metal flashings, trim and gutters. Combining the skills of GSM Roofing and GSM Industrial we were able to custom fabricate all of the metal needed for this project. We used Revere copper in Freedom Gray for all of the exposed metal. This is a sheet of copper that is treated with an alloy of tin/zinc on the outside layer, combining the strength and reliability of copper with the aesthetic required for this historical property. We replaced all of the copper gutters and downspouts with copper hinged leak guards. The snow rail brackets were fabricated in our shop using 1” x 3/16 stainless steel bar, and the rails were made of IPE Brazilian Mahogany. We installed a custom roof hatch clad with Freedom Gray copper. GSM Industrial fabricated and welded stainless steel frames for the chimney caps that were then also covered with Freedom Gray copper.

Drawing on the combined skills of our Exceptional People we were able to work hand in hand with LancasterHistory and their mission to maintain the historical integrity of this property while extending the life of the roof system for generations.

Preservation Pennsylvania included James Buchanan Wheatland in their 2020 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards. “The Historic Preservation Awards recognize a passion for the past, applaud achievements in the present. and inspire a history-rich future for Pennsylvania,” said Mindy Crawford, Executive Director of Preservation Pennsylvania.

“LancasterHistory is grateful for the work and care provided by GSM Roofing at Wheatland. As an historic mansion, and the home of Pennsylvania’s only United States President, Wheatland required special attention, down to the smallest detail. It’s a delight to look up and see the new roof and know that Mr. Buchanan would be proud.”

Robin Sarratt, Vice President

Click photo to enlarge

A fun side note, the smokehouse/icehouse was the winner of our 2015 Great Roof Giveaway; see their awesome silent film entry here, you won’t be disappointed. North County  Black 22” x 11” Slate

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I did get a chance to inspect the roof of this church last week. There was no damage to the roof, it is actually in quite good condition since it was installed in the late 80's or early 90's. The leaks they are experiencing are at the flashing transitions to the stone masonry and one at a brick masonry chimney.

But I did want to tell you that I was very impressed with Austin, the young fellow that ran the lift for me. I am not sure I have ever had such a smooth and accurately-placed ride. It wasn't the highest roof I ever had to look at, and maybe the equipment rental was newer, but still, it was refreshing to see the competence of that young fellow.

Dave Stakem Adjuster June 28, 2022