Roxbury Roots and History

Tile Plant Snafu Delays Clay Roof at Historic Roxbury Station

Former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Lake Hopatcong station
Closeup of Morris Plains station roof
Lake Hopatcong station depicted in old postcard

ROXBURY, N.J. - A manufacturing problem is delaying the long-awaited installation of new, but historically accurate, glazed clay roofing tiles at the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western (DL&W) Railroad station in Landing. 

Installation of the 6,000 green tiles on the old station was supposed to begin last week, said Lake Hopatcong Foundation board chairman Marty Kane. However, it now appears the work won't begin until late November, he said. 

The cause of the delay: A problem with an oven at Lodowici Roof Tiles in New Lexington, Ohio, Kane said. Lodowici is the same company that supplied the DL&W with roof tiles when the Hopatcong station was built in 1911. 

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"We thought they'd be going on right now," Kane said. "This was the original date. The contractors have finished all the masonry work, all the parapets and all. Everything up high has been completely restored and redone … But the manufacture of the tiles got delayed, so now we're waiting for the shipment. 

Although the tiles are coming from the same factory that made them for the station 105 years ago, they are "not a standard item," and had to be ordered special, Kane said. The $215,000 job is being funded by a grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust. 

The installation of the tiles will be handled by Alden Baily Restorations, a Connecticut company that specializes in historic and high-end roofing jobs. Alden Baily's principal, Glenn Crooker, Sr., said the job will take less than a month to complete. 

"We will be starting on the project before the tile arrives," Crooker said. "There is some copper roof going on and copper gutters and leaders. Everything will be 100 percent historically accurate." 

Kane, who is a historian focused on the Lake Hopatcong area, said "nobody knows" what happened to the original clay tiles. "That's the oddest thing," he said. "Our contractors believe they were removed because the roof was leaking and they (whoever removed the old roof) blamed the tiles." 

However, when the contractors doing the current restoration of the station began masonry work they found a "basic defect" was made by the original builders, Kane said. This, not the roof tiles, was allowing water into the structure, they determined.  

"They really believe there was always a bit of a water problem and, probably by the 1950s, somebody said, 'We're putting one of these new asbestos roofs on,'" Kane said. "I have to say, not one person has popped out yet and said they remember them taking them off or anything. In all the early photos you see tiles still on." 

When finished, the Lake Hopatcong station will look "almost exactly" like its sister station in Mountain Lakes, Kane said. That structure still has the green clay tile roof. 

The Lake Hopatcong station was added this year to the national and state registers of historic places. The ongoing restoration, based on a historic preservation plan by the architectural firm of Connolly and Hickey, will return the building to its 1911 appearance "as much as is practical to enable its reuse as a community center and home of the Foundation," Kane said. "Local builder Bob O’Donnell of Mount Arlington, who specializes in historic structures, has been continuing his incredible efforts on the project … Fortunately, the building was basically sound." 

Internal structural work was finished this spring and the the workers tackled masonry issues on the roof, Kane said. "The stone parapets that you see as you drive by had greatly deteriorated in the 100-plus years since the station was constructed and needed to be rebuilt," he said.

 

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