Roland Park School to Get New Clay Tile Roof, Not ‘Luxury Designer Shingles’

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photo by Ed Gunts
photo by Ed Gunts

Baltimore City Public Schools has reversed its earlier position and decided to put a new clay tile roof on the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (RPEMS), to replace one damaged in the 29-inch January snowstorm.

That means it will not be using “luxury designer shingles” that drew opposition from five neighborhood associations and three architecture and preservation groups.

“I am informed that the RPEMS roof will be completed with clay tile, as requested by the community associations,” acting CEO Tammy Turner wrote on June 29 to James Determan, an architect who led the fight for the clay tile roof.

“We are optimistic that an agreement can be reached that will enable the project to move forward toward completion within the next six months,” said Turner, whose tenure ends tomorrow, when Sonja Santelises begins takes office as CEO of City Schools.

“Dr. Santelises will be briefed on the history and current status of the project…upon her arrival,” Turner wrote to Determan. “Thank you…for your dedicated interest in RPEMS and its students.”

Determan, a past president of the Wyndhurst Improvement Association, said he believes the public officials made a good decision for repairing the school at 5207 Roland Avenue. The building dates from 1924 and originally had a clay tile roof.  Keith Scroggins, the school systems’ chief operating officer, had notified community residents that the school system planned to use “luxury designer shingles’’ for the roof replacement, instead of clay tiles.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Determan said today. “I think it was very wise of the board to take a close look at the history of the project and reverse the decision of the operations office…The clay tile roof was paid for by the taxpayers of Maryland. It’s a valuable asset not only for the school but also the community and the future students.”

Besides the Wyndhurst Improvement Association, groups that voted to support a clay tile roof included the Roland Park Civic League, the North Roland Park Association, the Poplar Hill Association, the Evergreen Community Association, Baltimore Heritage, Preservation Maryland and the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Determan said the decision is a sign to him that it pays to fight for the best solution.

“Design matters,” he wrote to those who groups that joined the fight for the clay tile roof. “Advocacy works.”

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.
Ed Gunts


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3 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a good sign that the school board, more specifically Mr. Scroggins, is able to change a decision based on community opposition. Thanks to all of the community representatives who attended the board meeting to present the neighborhood’s position.

  2. I was born in 1937. My family house was at 724 Colorado Avenue. That is .only 2 blocks from Roland Park Elementary School and Junior High School which I attended. In 1954 the Orioles work out at Gilman, which is next door the schools. I wonder if the roofs were the same ones as covered them [email protected]

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