And It Began
One of the tributaries of the mainstream of medieval craftsmanship flowed through the hands of peasants, who, with no formal training, graced the European countryside with their unpretentious cottages. It's an appearance of spontaneous and natural craft. A look the drawing board and tee square rarely achieves. The unselfconscious, delightful simplicity that radiates from these pastoral, vernacular dwellings has captured people for centuries. The peasants intuitive skill at beautifying the utilitarian is no where more evident than in the cottages' thatch roofs, with their undulating roof lines which roll gently over the irregular contours. It seems to have a way of making a building an integral part of the landscape. In the 1920's, when English Tudor, French Norman and Costwold design first came into prominence in this country, the European cottage style was also transplanted and took root. Since water reed thatch is a native plant to many parts of Europe, but rare in the United States, a building product indigenous to North America ~ Western Red Cedar ~ was used as a roof covering to create a "thatch effect" roof.
A company headquartered in the Buffalo, New York area, called Creo-Dipt, pioneered the concept. They designed a framing system that produced all the rounded configurations of a thatch roof, and appeared in various architectural catalogues of their day. They also manufactured a bent shingle made from western red cedar, which was used on the rounded area of the roof. The courses of shingles, rather than being laid in straight lines, were run in long, irregular waves to simulate the texture of thatch. Creo-Dipt's detailing was excellent and their attempt to reproduce the flowing roof lines of the thatched European cottage was very successful. Before long, their "thatch effect" roofs were being constructed all over the United States. They soon had manufacturing plants in different parts of the country, as well as distributorships through regional lumberyards. But alas, the Great Depression did the company in, but not America's love for the European cottage. In the early 1980's these original cottage roofs were worn out and many homeowners, desperate to stop leaks, re-roofed with composition shingles - a gross imitation of the natural beauty of the original wood roofs, not to mention the drastic deviation from the European thatched cottage they were designed to emulate. Many homeowners, realizing the architectural significance of their homes, patched and plugged leaks waiting for a roofer to come along who would accept the challenge of restoring their roofs.
In 1982, we took the challenge of re-roofing a 60 year old home, which was a beautiful example of cottage architecture. After inventing and constructing our own steaming and bending equipment, we completed the sensitive restoration project, receiving national publicity for our work. Shortly thereafter, we were awarded a U.S. patent for our steam-bending equipment. We had revived a lost art. The inquires began pouring in, and within half a year, we were traveling extensively throughout the United States, re-roofing these unique structures. With such a resurgence of interest in the country cottage style roof, Country Cottage Roof® saw a viable market for producing pre-bent wood shingles like Creo-Dipt had done sixty years before. After considerable exposure in national magazines, we sensed that the public was tired of the straight, stark lines of modern architecture, and was waiting to discover the romantic charm of the European cottage. We turned our thoughts and marketing efforts toward this new construction. Realizing there was a limited need for bent wood shingles without builders being familiar with the construction of roofs with curved configurations, we set out to design a framing system which would incorporate our specialty shingles. As part of our newly trademarked roof system called Country Cottage Roof®, we designed and marketed pre-fabricated, curved framing components which would give the builder the luxury of framing the roof conventionally and attaching our components to the existing roof structure.
The finished product retains the integrity of its hand-crafted appeal, without pricing itself out of the market. 1987 was the first year the product was heavily marketed to new construction. Builder magazine, the official publication of the National Association of Home Builders, rated it among the top fifty new building products for reader interest in 1987. Model homes using Country Cottage Roof® were built in major cities across the Unites States, in a number of instances winning top exterior awards in their local builder shows. In 1990 Country Living featured the Country Cottage Roof® on it's "House of the Year". Since that time, the Country Cottage Roof® has received wide acclaim with it's constant exposure in the national media. Installations have been completed from coast to coast, beyond the borders, and as far away as Japan. Our work has continued to make waves, and just recently was featured in the Southern California Institute of Architecture.
Since those early days, the Country Cottage Roof® has continued its timeless trend, and has only increased in its appeal and intrigue. We have added curved framing components to many traditionally framed homes, as well many new construction homes being designed and built in this genre. Our team is always ready to assist in the design aspect of these homes. If you have a traditionally framed home, or are constructed your new Storybook home, contact us for more information and details.