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Monday, July 4, 2011

The Roofs of Our Founding Fathers

When I read the other day that 2/3rds of our children do not know the three branches of government, I wondered if they knew what the 4th of July was all about: the right to build the roof of your choice without some regent telling you no.

Thomas Jefferson, my favorite American Revolutionary, flirted with sheet iron, pine shingles (although they were too expensive for the cost conscious tax revolting hero), and some interesting "Zig Zag" structure design made out of short planks mitered together rendering rafters unnecessary for his great dome on Monticello. He got the idea from his stay in France. Later he was enamored with tin and fortified his dome with a "hundred year roof." When he went with tiles, the cheapest product of his day, also weighing about the same as slate, he lost his boast of his roof not leaking. Tile roofs leak. They need underlayments.I could have told him that. He was just a professed amateur at building.

Jefferson's verbal sparing partner, John Adams, the Bush of his day as his son became president too, had a great roof quote about the White House he made on his second day there. I cannot resist: 
"Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."
While Jefferson mastered many talents, Adams was the political philosopher, like me. Yet I fail to find anything on his roofs. Thus I'll tell you the best part of the story of these two men's entwined lives:
Adams retired to his farm in Quincy. Here he penned his elaborate letters to Thomas Jefferson. Here on July 4, 1826, he whispered his last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives." But Jefferson had died at Monticello a few hours earlier.
I lifted these quotes from a government website but was already aware. Here's where to go 
I did find some pics of Adam's house and the first ones appeared to have wood shingles and the more elegant one later in life had slate.

Now for good old George Washington. This was copied from a site on Mount Vernon:
Hand Riving Shingles
Although the shingles currently on the roof are not original to the house (wooden shingles, depending on the type of wood, have a 25 to 50 year lifespan), they are the same shape, size and material as the ones George Washington used. It was through research and physical evidence that the roofs original appearance (and paint color) was discovered.
The roof you see today was installed in 1994 and uses over 60,000 hand rived cypress shingles. A froe is used to split the thin shingles off of a larger block of cypress. After the shingles are removed from the block they are then rounded with a saw to give the "fish scale" appearance to the roof that George Washington liked so much.

Love that hand rive.

You really need to thank these men because they;re the reason you get today off. They risked their considerable fortunes for an idea, that you could be free. And you are and will continue to be as long as you read your history and keep up with how many branches of government we have. Because if that changes we've got a real problem.

God Bless America!

Jon Alan Wright
Jon Wright Roofing, Siding, and Windows
1915 Peters Rd., Suite 310
Irving, TX 75061
972.251.1818 Office
214.718.3748 Cell
972.554.8090 Fax
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1 comment:

nat said...

I wonder if some of that freedom includes the freedom not to contract with some insurance company under the guise that liability insurance protects the homeowner when the truth is liability insurance protects the contractor from the homeowner.

Ed Senter