During the work on the exterior carpentry and eave reconstruction, I was able to uncover quite a bit about how the home was originally constructed. A hint about the original roofing and gutters is still in place on the back of the house. The small pantry addition still has the original recessed gutter and purlins for a shingle roof.
Here is an illustration that shows how the shingles would have been adhered above the rafters and how the crown molding would have concealed the original tin-lined gutter system. It would have looked very "clean" on the outside of the house but these systems were difficult to maintain so many people had them torn out and replaced with a standard exterior gutter and downspout. On the main body of my house, this section was chopped off to make way for the modern asphalt shingles and pre-formed aluminum gutter.
On the front of the home, the demolition of the shingle roof and gutter replacement creates an awkward detail. The gutter end is exposed, the crown molding on the eave is non-existent, and the crown at the gable eave is cut and exposed.
There were two possible ways that the gable molding would have been detailed. The "right" way uses a fillet that joins where the gable fascia meets the front eave fascia and only has a crown at the gable. This is more common in high-style, architect-designed homes as it mimics detailing related to particular Classical orders. The "wrong" or "carpenter" manner is a crown that runs across the front and wraps around the side eave. The gable crown is cut to meet the top of that lower crown. Our house was detailed with the "wrong" detail. This is fine as it was a mass-produced home with little input from an architect so many of the intricate details were likely resolved in the field, by craftsmen.
During the demolition of the front eave, we discovered that the shingle roof still exists under the front gable. We made a decision that since this piece faces the street and is highly visible that we wanted to bring back the look of the original shingle.
The roofers demolished the asphalt shingle and revealed the original roof. It is as we expected but it terrible shape. We decided to replace the entire thing with new shingles to match the original. We also requested that the crown molding be added back to the front eave. Unfortunately, we won't be able to resolve the detail of the crashing moldings and gutters because we do not intend on re-roofing the entire home and replacing the gutters back to the original configuration.
The guys at Hanson Roofing made quick work of this small project. They specialize in historic roofs so we knew we were in good hands with them.
We couldn't be happier with the final product. The new shingle roof looks great and we think it will look even better once we re-paint the front gable shingles and trim.