2015 Roof Replacement

In 2013 the Legacy of Liberty Preservation Project: Phase 2 was launched.  Over the next 2 years, St. John's Church Foundation raised a total of $483,000, allowing us to replace leaking roofs on the church, the parish hall, and boiler house; paint the church and parish hall exteriors; repair and replace the church shutters; make plumbing repairs; as well as to conduct structural analysis of the roof and foundation.

 We are forever grateful to our donors that made this project possible.  

  • Anonymous

  • Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. Brown

  • Burcham Family Fund

  • Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation

  • Ruth Camp Campbell Foundation

  • Beirne Carter Foundation

  • The Chrisman Family Foundation

  • Mr.* and Mrs. Walter W. Craigie

  • Garland and Agnes Taylor Gray Foundation

  • Thomas F. Jeffress Memorial

  • National Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

  • Nocero Family Foundation

  • Robins Foundation: Director Initiated Grant by Mr. Lewis T. Booker

  • Roller-Bottimore Foundation

  • William, H., John G. & Emma Scott Foundation

  • Titmus Foundation

  • Mr. and Mrs. Tom F. Turner

  • Windsor Foundation Trust

  • Countless individual donors


From Start to Finish

The Story of Phase 2


In 2013 we made a commitment to launch the Legacy of Liberty Preservation Project: Phase 2. Our goal was to raise $324,000 to address critical preservation needs at St. John’s Church and its surrounding historic site, but most especially the failing roof of the church. The existing Hendricks Tile roof installed in 1964 has reached the end of its anticipated life span. The church roof which was actively leaking— it was patched as a stopgap measure while we raised the funds for total roof replacement.

Postcard, c. 1906, shows a standing seam metal roof. Courtesy of St. John’s Church Archives

Roof replacement was recommended in an Architectural Conservation Assessment completed in 2005 and an 2007 Historic Structures Report. Both reports recommend that a copper roof should be installed to replace the existing Hendricks Tile roof. There was a historic precedent for a metal roof. The first metal roof was put on the church in 1898 and metal roofs continued to be used until the Hendricks Tile roof was installed in 1964.

In 2014, after careful consideration, we increased the Phase 2 budget from $324,000 to $379,862 to address other preservation issues in concert with the roof replacement. Firstly, while the tile was being removed, the roof framing would be studied by a structural engineer. This will help determine if the lighter copper roof will permit the removal of the 12 visible tie rods located inside the church. Secondly, unexpected issues came up— replacing a cracked sewer pipe to the Visitors bathrooms which was causing repeated blockages— that required immediate attention. Lastly, we could secure a treatment proposal for the 1741 sounding board located above the pulpit.


St. John’s Church Foundation was able to start its Legacy of Liberty Preservation Project: Phase 2 in spring of 2015. The Foundation raised a total of $462,000 for Phase 2, thanks largely in part to a $100,000 anonymous gift and a $100,000 challenge grant from the Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation. The Cabell Foundation challenge to raise $100,000 in matching funds was successfully completed in early January.

All thanks to the generous support of foundations and countless individual donors!

The response to the challenge grant was tremendous. Donations included $5,600 from the National Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence - $100 for each of the 56 signers - and another $560 from the Virginia chapter of the descendants. Other donations came from the Titmus Foundation, the Garland and Agnes Taylor Gray Foundation, the Nocero Family Foundation, and one anonymous donor.

In sum the Phase 2 work included the following:

  • replacing three leaking roofs (church, parish hall and boiler house)

  • painting the church and parish hall exterior

  • repairing or replacing the church shutters

  • plumbing repairs to the visitor center restrooms

  • undertaking a conservation assessment of the church’s original 1741 sounding board

  • and conducting a structural analysis of the church roof

The boiler house roof replacement is complete (gutters and downspouts added later). This building houses the church boiler, storage for the Visitor Center and the Actors’ wardrobe and changing room.

Paul Saunders Roofing began replacement of the boiler house roof on March 9 and it was complete by month’s end.

Work on the Parish Hall roof began March 16th. The roofers quickly discovered that the internal gutters on the building were clogged and rotten and necessary repairs preempted work on the roof. This was paid for out of a 15% contingency built into the budget to cover such unexpected repairs. Despite the set back, the project remained on schedule and budget.

Shutters, doors, roofs

Church shutters were removed, cleaned, stripped, primed, painted and repaired if necessary. Any material replaced was replaced in-kind and missing shutters were replaced using old wood and historically sensitive hardware. As a National Historic Landmark, all restoration work on the church follows the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The Secretary’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are commonsense historic preservation principles in non-technical language. They promote historic preservation best practices that help protect our nation’s irreplaceable cultural resources.

The shutter repair, painting, and roof replacement projects happened interchangeably over the course of the summer as the scaffolding was used for all aspects at once. Shrouding the church in scaffolding all summer was not easy on the eyes but the results were worth every second of inconvenience— and in one summer we accomplished several crucial and exciting projects.