Independence Hall Restoration
POST DATE Jun 02, 2015
AS WORKMEN PUT the finishing touches on a 14-week restoration of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, western red cedar is leaving its mark at the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The $4.9-million project included replacing damaged brick masonry; painting window frames, doors, and all exposed wood decorative features; refurbishing copper urns; installing new clock faces, bracings, and lightning protection system; applying borate fungicide treatment to interior structural elements, and replacing wood shingles and flashings. As much as possible, new materials were selected to match the old and products were sourced locally, such as using Horsham, Pa.-based Benjamin Obdyke’s Cedar Breather ventilating roof underlayment—a product not yet invented at the time of the last renovation in the 1980s.
Roofing was provided by Bradco Supply, Malvern, Pa., and wood products by Capital Forest Products, Annapolis, Md. Pro-East, Essington, Pa., supplied the fasteners— domestically produced by Maze Nails, Peru, Il. For the cedar roofing, however, Bradco and Capital had to call on British Columbia to find older-growth trees with sufficient density. “Western red cedar was chosen for its durability and beauty,” explained Curtis Walker, of B.C.- based Waldun Group. “The existing roof was cedar and we had to match it with high quality cedar roofing. The old roof was still in great shape after 30 years, but because the extensive scaffolding was up, it made sense to re-roof.” He said, “Originally, the product for this U.S. landmark was to be 100% American made. There was an exception made to have Waldun product installed. This specification was changed because the consistency of the Waldun product is unmatched in the industry, and the product was cut from first growth.” Curtis Walker traveled to Philadelphia to ensure Waldun would provide an exact match. “When we first got to the project, I was literally laying on the platforms 15 stories up to examine the underside of the shakes to see if they had a split back face or a resawn back face,” he recalled. “We measured exposures and even met with a government official, who was overseeing the particulars, to see the archive room and take samples from the old roof.” Waldun supplied 2,000 sq. ft. of custom-made cedar shakes for the project. Its mill split the 18- and 24-inch shakes, while an old-world craftsman from Washington State hand-split the 36-inch by 3/4-inch shakes. In total, cedar shakes were installed on four of the hall’s nine levels.