May 18, 2017


May 2017 - "Raise the Roof": 18th Century Local Roofing Practice

Presented by Robert Wood


The Goschenhoppen Historians’ May meeting will feature a program by local historian and author Bob Wood on early roof making practices in the Germanic areas of southeastern Pennsylvania. Research indicates that most local 18th century farms had many of their accessory structures thatched with rye straw. Whenever possible, buildings with chimneys were roofed with clay tiles or with long, side-lapped, rived wooden shingles.


In the Germanic regions of Europe from which the local immigrants came, all of these roofing materials were in use but fireproof and long-lasting clay tiles were almost exclusively used in the tightly settled towns and villages. Rye straw thatching was common, particularly in less settled hamlets where the risk of spreading fire was lessened. The early immigrants began duplicating the building practices with which they were familiar. Particularly in their first years of settlement, when so much needed to be done, many roofs were thatch, which was relatively quick to install, and also had the advantage of being the least costly means of covering a small building. As time and finances permitted, such roofs were upgraded to clay tiles or side-lapped shingles. By the middle of the 19th century thatched roofs were far less common in this region.


Mr. Woods well researched and fast moving power-point program will take place at 7:30 PM on Thursday, May 18, 2017, at Redmen’s Hall, the Historians’ headquarters located at 116 Gravel Pike (State Route 29), Green Lane, PA 18054. There is no entry fee and the public is welcome and invited to attend. Light refreshments will be served during an informal get-together at the close of the meeting. More information at 215-234-4119.  

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