Historic homes are a treasure, but sometimes a challenge to maintain. When it comes time to choose a roof for your historic home in Sonora, you may struggle to choose a material that is as accurate as possible to the home, time period, and materials that were available in Tuolumne county when your home was built.

If your home is on the National Register of Historic Places, you may be required to make roof repairs with accurate materials. Even if your home is not on the National Register, you may still want to honor its roots and increase its architectural value by installing a roof with traditional roofing materials.

Here’s our guide to discovering what your historic home should have on its roof.

Discover Your Home’s Style

Your old house’s roof should reflect its original architectural style. Here is a list of the most popular historical home styles in Sonora, according to the Sonora General Plan:

  • Neoclassical: Also called California Rustic, Neoclassical homes were the first buildings in Sonora. They were most likely to have clay roofing, as their walls were made from clay (adobe), stone and red brick. Historical societies may allow these homes to have asphalt shingle roofing. Typically, they have gable roofs.
  • Queen Anne: Queen Anne homes were built in Sonora from the 1880s until after the first World War. These were most likely to be adorned with colorful wood or slate roofing (painted or naturally colorful.) These roofs are also more complicated than most, with turrets, balconies, and ornamental features.
  • Craftsman: After the first World War, Craftsman homes become popular. These are low-pitched roofs which typically have rafter tails visible from the ground. Most likely, these roofs had wood shingles or early asphalt shingles.

While almost all historical homes in Sonora are one of the three architectural styles listed above, a few are these styles:

  • Folk Victorian: These are a less elaborate version of Queen Anne homes.
  • National Folk: This style had several roof styles and materials.
  • Tudor Revival: These are steep roofs with several gables and many roof materials.
  • Eastlake: This style is also a simpler version of Queen Anne style.

If there are no documents or old photographs of the house, or if you’re having trouble deciding what architectural style your home belongs to, consider contacting the Historic Preservation Review Commission or Tuolumne County for help.

How to Ensure Materials are Historical

Roofers of the past were limited by the materials available in their area. Find materials specific to Sonora by consulting with your roofer and a historian. Though, you can make some educated guesses. For example, in most of California western red cedar and California redwood were most commonly used for wood shakes. However, it’s important to note that wood shingles and shakes need modern treatment to reduce fire risk. It’s impractical to recreate old roofs exactly.

Choose Your Roofer

Choose a roofer who understands that a historical home’s roof isn’t just a practical matter. It’s important to get materials, roof shape, and little details right to maintain the character of your home.