Friday, March 2, 2012

Reader Mailbag

Imagine my delight upon opening the bad mansard email inbox and finding this mansard in Tower Grove East recently purchased by DL. Welcome to the near south side DL! Your new place is darn cute and I love the brick detailing under the cornice.

D. seeks my advice as to how to fix this mansard in the rough. He writes: I was thinking diamond shape grey slate singles with no paint would look good, but part of me wants to do a painted floral pattern. I was wondering if you, as the expert on Mansards in St. Louis, might be able to give your opinion on what I should do. Pattern or no pattern? What pattern would look good with a plain brick facade? All grey or mixed colors? Diamonds or flat pieces or scallops? I'd also like to be somewhat historically accurate, but I have no idea what this mansard would have looked like before it was butchered. Any suggestions??

I am certainly flattered someone thought me to be a expert. But I am only good at tracking down and publicly defaming the bad mansards. I wish I knew how to rehab a mansard. My only advice is to drive around St. Louis and take pictures of mansards you like. Find a good contractor and a good tuck pointer. If memory serves, you don't have to do the slate; some of the composite materials look quite good. And maybe slate tiles have even been banned because it's so heavy and can kill people on the sidewalk? Or is that a rehabbers urban legend?

Does anyone else have any tips for D?


  1. We used real slate to repair our mansard here in old north and so have a few of our neighbors. We managed to find an old photo of our house to determine the original slate pattern and then ordered the color and shape we wanted from a place in Chesterfield. Tom Tschetter did our mansard (and others in the neighborhood) and I would recommend him without reservation. As for old photos, I know Landmarks has a collection of house pictures taken as part of a survey of City built environment in the 1970s, so that would be a good place to start. Also D should try Michael Allen at preservationresearch (dot) com for help in determining what would be appropriate for this particular house.

  2. First check to make sure the original shingles aren't underneath the newer ones. A lot of lazy people over the centuries have simply slapped new on top of old. Good luck!

  3. I second the driving around and photographing. Urban legend for sure. We redid our slate roof about 8 years ago so we've got 92 more years to enjoy it! It's worth the money, but you can count on a roof of that size (plus repairing the sheathing, and copper flashing to run you over $15K. I highly recommend Vince Gray. Excellent work on ours (we did hexagons - which are really 8"x16" recangles, with the bottom corners cut in the field and then overlapped.) I would think diamonds or scallops might look the best with your house. What a great one. Good luck.