McLean County Museum of History

Western Specialty Contractors Replaces Leaking Roof in Bloomington, IL
McLean County Museum of History, Helps Save Historic Relics

Extensive water damage from an aging roof threatened to destroy treasured artifacts housed at the McLean County Museum of History in Downtown Bloomington, IL. The water intrusion resulted from a 30-year-old, damaged roof that had exceeded its useful life span by more than five years, allowing rain to leak through the roof and insulation, clay tile, and mortar down into the building’s ceilings and interior rooms.

The nationally accredited, the award-winning museum occupies the former McLean County Courthouse, an American Renaissance-style structure built between 1900 and 1903. The building features a limestone-clad facade and solid masonry construction with a steeply sloping roof connecting the built-in gutter to the clocktower dome rising from its center. The old roof consisted of a 4-ply, built-up asphalt roof over one-inch perlite insulation mopped to the clay tile deck.

Although the McLean County maintenance staff had repaired the roof over the years, it no longer functioned properly and needed to be replaced immediately, along with the historic building’s drainage system. According to reports, as much as 14 gallons of water had leaked into the building after heavy spring rains, causing extensive damage. Although the water had damaged no artifacts, one area of the museum had to be closed off, and an office was relocated due to the leaking roof.

In 2020, the McLean County Board agreed to hire Scharnett Architects & Associates of Bloomington to perform architectural and engineering services to replace the building’s roof and improve its drainage system. Western Specialty Contractors’ Peoria Roofing Branch was contracted to replace the historic building’s damaged roof, with work on
the project was starting in May 2021.

Western’s crew removed the old roof and replaced it with a Firestone UltraPly TPO roofing system consisting of an 80 mil white membrane over gypsum coverboard, Polyisocyanurate insulation, and vapor barrier directly over the clay tile deck.

“The entire job was very challenging. We had to stage materials on the grounds as we needed them because the old clay tile deck could not be overloaded,” said Western Specialty Contractors Peoria Assistant Branch Manager Jared Osterman. “Tearing off the old roof every day was equally difficult because we had to crane materials down and up from the street as we progressed.”

The architect designed the new TPO roof system to go above and beyond what the manufacturer recommended, with double membrane thick valleys and ridges and built-in gutters lined with TPO and terminated with a liquid flashing, three-course step. The liquid flashing was use in place of counterflashing to minimize the use of mechanical fasteners in the historic structure. The job also required a 30-year, 80 MPH Firestone Roof warranty, including hail, cut, and puncture resistance.

Western’s Springfield, IL Branch also participated in the project by grinding out reglets, reworking the clay tiles around the drain replacements, and cleaning and sealing limestone at the gutter edge.

Performing a successful mock system pull test to ensure the new roof’s viability and strength, Western completed the roof replacement in September 2021. The museum had been closed to visitors during the roof replacement project while its restrooms were remodeled and its lighting fixtures replaced.

Julie Emig, the museum’s Executive Director, noted that the staff was relieved when the roof was restored. “The quality of Western Specialty Contractors’ work, especially given the complexity of this project, was outstanding. We no longer
worry that the next rainstorm could damage our award-winning collections and exhibits.”

University of Kansas – Allen Fieldhouse

The University of Kansas Allen Fieldhouse has hosted many legendary games in it’s long history. Age and exposure to the elements had caused a number of issues to it’s limestone and brick exterior. The eastern part of Kansas has a wet and cold climate. This contributed to a build up of mold and pollution on the building’s exterior.

The old building was in need of renovation. The Ward family of Kansas City pledged more than $7 million to help with the rehab. The total scope of work involved new windows, lights, a new court, stair towers, fire alarms, sprinklers, and electrical systems in addition to the exterior work.

Western Specialty Contractors' Kansas City Branch received a contract to handle the exterior work. Working from swing stages, the Western crew applied a Prosoco’s Enviro Klean® BioKlean™ solution, allowed it to dwell on the surface for twenty minutes, and then rinsed it off with high-pressure water. A neutralizing agent was then applied. This mildly acidic afterwash not only neutralized the cleaner, but it helped to brighten the limestone.

To help keep the buildng clean, Western treated the exterior with Prosoco Sure Klean® Weather Seal H40, a masonry-strengthening water repellent. The penetrating breathable treatment keeps water out of the stone without changing it’s appearance.

Southern Methodist University – Law Quad

Western proved that doing work the old fashioned way, by hand, is still sometimes the best way. Western crews completed a maintenance and repair project for the Southern Methodist University (SMU) School of Law in Dallas, Texas which required workers to use hand sanding instead of machinery to complete the job. Concrete around the quadrant area had begun to deteriorate due to steel rails being embedded directly into the concrete. Water eventually reached the steel, which caused it to expand and damage the surrounding concrete. The steel rails were sanded to ensure bonding and aesthetic longevity and were sealed to prevent future damage.

The scope of work also included recaulking the walkway and steps, making epoxy injection repairs to the concrete cracks, repairing metal expansion joints, cleaning and repainting steel joint brackets, making overhead concrete spall repairs, repainting and caulking the handrail, removing stains and repairing stone, replacing the corroded hollow metal frame doors, and cleaning the pavement and steps.

The university required that the area be kept completely open at all times for students to walk through, and that noise and dust be kept at a minimum so nearby classes would not be disrupted. Western used strategic planning to allow a steady flow of pedestrian traffic through the construction zone and utilized hand sanding, instead of sand blasting or power washing, to keep the dust and noise levels down.

The strategic planning between Western and SMU was one of the most important aspects of the project. Western effectively planned ahead and mobilized quickly to take advantage of the month-long holiday break to do all of the heavy work. If this work had been done while school was in session, the walkway would have needed to be closed. Therefore, noise and dust was kept to a minimum by planning ahead and hand sanding when school resumed.
– Teddy Williams
Western Assistant Regional Business Development Manager

Western crews were able to successfully complete the project within two months.


University of Notre Dame Football Stadium

As the college football season was fast approaching, Western was contacted to provide a new traffic coating system in all the concourses, concession stands, bathrooms, and pedestrian ramps around the stadium.

The project called for a fast track schedule which included cleaning, preparing, and recoating 270,000 square feet of traffic coating membrane. The project had to be completed in just six weeks to have the stadium ready for opening day.

Western accomplished this task with experience, professional craftsmanship, and by working with the stadium operations staff to meet the schedule.

National Gallery of Art (East Building)

As part of a major restoration effort to the exterior stone facade of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Western was selected to help with some restoration work in parts of the Gallery’s air shafts. This presented the Western crew with many challenges due to difficult access to work areas, and stringent production and schedule requirements.

The air shafts are triangular in shape and required the use of several different size swing-stage drops. Safety and access became the number one priority for Western.

The interior of the air shafts consist of a brick facade with a thick coating of dampproofing on top of it. This would normally hinder production and the general progression of work, but the crew was able to develop some alternative means and methods to stay on pace with the schedule needs.

The Western crew’s presence went unnoticed by many of the other trades on-site due to their ability to conduct this work at night. This was arranged to help the general contractor maintain a less congested job site. Another requirement of the job was to document progress on a daily basis. Western’s project management team developed progress maps and reports that were submitted each day, along with photos to document the work and support their requests for payment.

Western was presented with several different challenges and numerous obstacles, and they developed solutions to keep the project on time and moving ahead at the correct production rate. This is another example of Western’s approach to making customers partners through a long-term project.

Webster University “Green Roof”

Western Helps Webster University Grow “Green”

The home campus of global educator Webster University is in picturesque Webster Groves in suburban St. Louis. Encompassed in the university’s worldview and course offerings is a strong sense of environmental awareness. Which made this past April’s Sustainability Conference held in the new East Academic Hall a milestone occasion.

This LEED Silver Candidate structure is three stories and 92,000 square feet of learning opportunities. And on its roof is still another: the lushly vegetated system installed by Western’s St. Louis branch.

The overall roof design called for two green sectors and a third traditional surface. Each of the green areas received a base layer of fully adhered TPO membrane, to which some 1,600 vegetation trays—each 24-by-24 inches—were secured. The remaining roof system included fully-adhered TPO membrane adhered to tapered insulation.

Dealing with live material added to the complexity, confirms project manager Thom Belgeri. “The vegetation trays had to be ordered months in advance, and we had to coordinate our work with that of multiple trades. It was definitely challenging.”

To meet the University’s tight deadlines and aesthetic expectations, Western representatives took part in regular owner’s meetings with the general contractor and architects.

“Our client was most pleased with the results,” Belgeri notes. “And we’re very excited to have contributed to such a high-profile example of sustainability.”

A total of 1,600 vegetation trays, each two-foot square, were secured to the two green sectors to create the lushly landscaped roof. Fully adhered TPO membrane was applied to the entire roof, with tapered insulation affixed to the non-green sector.