Chapter 1:2 Guild system

Chapter 1:2 Guild system

Chapter 1: Metal roofing in history <

This trade, in its traditional form practiced all over Europe for the last 1200 years, never made it to America. The guilds that trained members, protected secrets, and progressed the techniques in the trade were property of their patrons. Guild members were the “exemption class” in feudal times. They were able to move freely and take commissions for building as it was needed, while most citizens were tied to the land they were born on, and the crown they were born under. However they were only allowed to work on guild sanctioned projects, and they of course were tied to the guild for life. Being removed from the guild would be economic suicide for any member or group. As we move into late history and colonial times, the guilds were kept in the home countries and the members had little incentive to leave their guild for an un-known market in the colonies. The wars and social upheaval of the 18th and 19th centuries further solidified this split. The colonies developed their own methods, mostly influenced by necessity. 

As architectural styles moved into European romantic revival, we see more complicated rooflines that required the knowledge of a guild craftsmen. Since we had none here, and already had a tradition of soldering terneplate and producing “good enough” results, this practice was continued on these more complicated roofs. Any roofer who has worked in an old city will be familiar with tearing this work out, usually as the lowest layer, with other systems added on-top of the original metalwork after it failed. Dead valleys, built-in gutters, and flat sections were treated with this soldered “patchwork” terne almost exclusively.

In the preservation movements of the 20th century, much of this missinformed work was codified as “historic” and worthy of reproduction.  This has been a terrible and wasteful mistake for the built environment of this country.

Chapter 1:3 Colonial adaptions