The 1936 station at Humboldt Bay needed a new roof, and it turns out, much more.
On the remote northern peninsula of Humboldt Bay sits one of the last traditional lifeboat stations in America. Built in 1936, this still-active U.S. Coast Guard station serves the 250 miles of California coastline from Mendocino to the Oregon border — an area known for powerful storms, towering offshore rocks, heavy fog, and high sandbars.
The station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is also buffeted by these threatening conditions. By the time Precision was contracted to replace its steep, Cape Cod Revival roof and the roof on a nearby generator building, they were in serious disrepair. The red, painted-wood shingles were decaying and covered with lichen. The decorative wrought-iron balustrade along the widow’s walk was dangerously corroded, and the copper gutters and flashing were disintegrating. In addition, Precision discovered rotting redwood fascia on the west porch and east garage overhang, and decayed wood gutters over three porches.
All of this needed to be repaired in accordance with strict rules that protect the historic exterior from any alteration. The $620,000 project began with removing the shingles, flat roofing, underlayment, flashing, and other components down to the sheathing, and removing the wrought-iron railing, copper roof, gutters, and other roofing elements.
Dry rot was repaired in the eaves, soffits, and parapets; historically accurate new fascia, crown molding, and cove molding were installed, along with new wrought-iron railing, base plates, and attachments. Modified bitumen roofing was added at the entry wing and to the front and side porch flat roofs, as well
as a self-adhered underlayment to the watchtower. New metal fixtures including flashing, parapet coping, gravel stops, scoppers, and roof drains, along with copper deck plates at the watch tower, with fully soldered flat-seam copper sheeting, copper sidewall flashing, and copper gutters and downspouts. New underlayment, 1×4 pressure-treated lath strips and new red cedar shingles were installed on the sloped roofs.
The finished restoration was painted to match the existing colors: a white shingled exterior with black shutters and red roofs and chimneys. The station was occupied during all construction, and work was done to minimally disrupt its critical operations.