The Fort Pitt Society of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who have owned and administered the Block House as a historic landmark since 1894, were in the process of applying for grant money from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to fund the desperately needed repairs to its roof when RickJohn Roofing came forward and offered to donate the entire roof project. When Rick and Bob heard what was going on, they both said we need to help out.
Both men, who are native Pittsburghers, have extensive experience restoring historic homes and churches. Most notably, they undertook the restoration of 11 National Register properties in Charleston, South Carolina following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and have also restored the roofs on some of Pittsburgh’s most treasured estates such as Clayton, known now as The Frick, built by Henry Clay Frick in the 1880’s.
The existing cedar shake roof on the Block House, installed in 1948 to replace the 1894 roof that had been put on when the building was restored following its presentation to the Pittsburgh Chapter by Mary Schenley, needed to be replaced entirely. Records indicate that the decking upon which the 1948 shakes were nailed was not replaced at that time but rather a new decking was laid over the old. Consequently, the removal of all of the decking during this current roof replacement presented a rare opportunity to view the skeleton of the Block House roof. In it, they would be able to see how many rafters would be original to the building’s 1764 construction.
The second-story ceiling of the Block House is covered with overlapping wood panels that conceal the rafters from the inside. This “attic” space had not been seen by anyone living today. Historic Preservationists and Archaeologists were on-site during the roofing project to examine the nineteenth-century architecture and recovered any historic material that was associated with the Fort Pitt Block House.
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