elms newport
The Elms (Photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County)

The Preservation Society of Newport County announced on Wednesday that work will begin work to restore the flat roof at The Elms this week.

The Elms will remain open during this $600,000 project. The house will be decorated for Christmas and all tours will continue as scheduled, as will the holiday evening planned for Saturday, December 21.

“The work of historical preservation goes on 12 months a year thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors,” Preservation Society CEO Trudy Coxe said in a press release. “There is always another project requiring urgent attention. So even as we begin the work on The Elms we are fundraising for roof projects at Marble House and Rosecliff, which will each run over $1 million.”

The Elms has a two-tiered roof. The specific area where this restoration work will take place involves the upper flat roof over the servants’ quarters, which was last replaced in the 1980s. Copper gutters, downspouts and soffits will be replaced, new flashing and skylights will be added, and the terra cotta roof deck will be repaired. This work will be integrated into the lead roof installed in 2000, which surrounds the servants’ quarters and affords access to the entire roof complex.

The only change visible from the street will be scaffolding and a debris chute on the Bellevue Avenue face of The Elms on its northeast corner. Visitor parking and general access to the grounds will be unchanged.

Crocker Architectural Sheet Metal Co., which has worked on other Preservation Society projects, will replace the 27-year-old roof at The Elms with a new EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) high-density synthetic rubber membrane that has a 30-year lifespan. A single layer that is roughly 3/4-inch thick, EPDM can withstand extreme temperatures up to 419 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be installed in cold weather. Restoration work will also be done on the two copper skylights and the copper cornice and gutters.

As work at The Elms proceeds, the Preservation Society is preparing to undertake another major roof restoration project at Marble House. Expected to begin sometime in 2020, this work will protect such things as the extravagant 22-karat “Gold Ballroom,” carved figures from Greek and Roman mythology, and a ceiling inspired by the Queen’s Bedroom at Versailles.

Additionally, there are plans for a major project anticipated to involve the roof and balustrade at Rosecliff. Inspired by the balustrade of the Grand Trianon of Versailles, this ornate structure hiding Rosecliff’s third-floor servants’ quarters has deteriorated after years of exposure to the sea air. The work will involve repairs to approximately 312 feet of balustrade along the eastern and southern portions of the building and the roof.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks — span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

For more information, visit NewportMansions.org.