Henderson Castle Revived With Award-winning Roof Restoration

davinci henderson castle
May 21, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.

By Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, (ARMA). 

The mansion’s recent restoration won gold in ARMA’s 2021 Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards Program. 

The Henderson Castle of Kalamazoo, Michigan was built in 1888 by Frank Henderson who always had a grand vision for the structure ever since he bought the plot of land it sits on. Henderson owned Henderson-Ames Company, a uniform manufacturer for the military and fraternities. The mansion is now listed in the National Register of Historical Places. 

The impressive structure was designed by C.A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its $72,000 price tag (equivalent to over $2 million in today’s currency) garnered 25 rooms in total, including seven baths (one of which included a 13-head shower), an elevator, third-floor ballroom and a hot tub on the roof (which was a later addition). The original exterior was built with sandstone and brick from Lake Superior, and the interior reflected the most expensive tastes of the time – mahogany, bird’s eye maple, quartered oak and American sycamore.  

In 1895, the Henderson’s hosted a lavish housewarming party to celebrate the house’s construction. Mr. Henderson died in 1899 and his wife remained a resident of the castle until she relocated in 1908. From 1908 until 2011, the Henderson Castle went through nine transfers of ownership, until Master Chef Francois Moyet decided to restore the castle and utilize it as a fixture in the community.  

One of the major obstacles to restoration was the castle’s slate roof, which had fallen into disrepair. The owner was seeking a reliable roof system that would be aesthetically in line with the majestic building. The contractor, West Michigan Roofing, knew asphalt was the roofing solution for this project, selecting GAF Slateline™ asphalt shingles to blend with the look of the original slate, making the roof water-resistant. 

Asphalt’s reliability and strength 

Kalamazoo faces extreme thunderstorms, abundant rain and is additionally liable to heatwaves. These climate situations exert a catastrophic effect on the roofs of the buildings and structure, so this historic castle needed a roof that could withstand the elements. Asphalt shingles were a clear choice to adorn the spires and to expand and contract without issue within seasonal variation. Additionally, due to the age of the structure, Henderson Castle’s original slate remained on parts of the roof. By using asphalt shingles, the West Michigan Roofing could provide a uniform aesthetic while still providing water-resistant protection to maintain the integrity of the roof. 

Overcoming hurdles 

Henderson Castle’s gorgeous roof restoration was not without its challenges. In addition to the technical challenges of the complex structure such as numerous spires, angles and flashing – there were quite a few logistic challenges that stretched this into an eight-week project. Not only did West Michigan Roofing need to hand carry the original slate roof down to be mindful of the historic leaded glass windows, there were some major logistic challenges to this job.  

Henderson Castle operates as a full inn with a Chophouse restaurant, organic garden, vineyard and day spa and remained operational during the roofing project. At the end of each week, West Michigan Roofing cleared out any equipment or product and started over again on Monday – requiring expert care, dedication and organization.   

“We’ve built a solid reputation for excellence, no matter how complex the job,” said Bob Ackerman, Kalamazoo branch manager, West Michigan Roofing & Construction. “The Henderson Castle is a piece of living history for the Kalamazoo community. Its location overlooking downtown and next door to the Kalamazoo College puts it right in the heart of the city. Henderson Castle has even been featured in three movies, as well as on the Discovery Channel and House Hunters. This wasn’t simply a roofing project, it was preserving part of history.” 

West Michigan Roofing and Construction is a family owned and operated company that has been providing quality service to the West Michigan Lakeshore, Muskegon, Holland and the Grand Rapids region for over 100 years.  

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) named West Michigan Roofing the 2021 Gold Winner in the Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards Program for its work on this project. Chosen by a panel of industry experts and media members, the Henderson Castle showcased asphalt roofing’s key qualities: durability, weather resistance and style. The Henderson Castle is now a permanent part of ARMA’s online winner’s gallery. 

Have a question? AskARoofer.  

Find your local roofing contractor in the RoofersCoffeeShop® Contractor Directory. 

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