Manchester Journal – January 15, 1998
Three young men in a an old business help BBS build it to last
The original plans called for a green metal roof, but Burr and Burtons new library, science and technology building now has a beautiful gray-green Vermont slate roof, thanks to master roofer Rick Wright, quarry owner John Hill, and mill operator John Helinski” We couldn’t be more pleased, ” said Headmaster chuck Scranton. “Their willingness to work with us and their generosity really made it possible. ”
Matching the slate roof on the original 1832 school building was certainly preferable, but the cost seemed prohibitive. Until Rick Wright and John Hill came along. “Though it’s initially more expensive, over the long term, slate is the most cost-effective roofing material,” explained Wright, “it looks good and it last forever. If you divide the cost per square inch by the life expectancy, you’ll see that a slate roof is well worth it.” Wright said he very much enjoyed doing the new Burr and Burton building, “It’s always nice doing a school. They’re meant to last forever.”
Rick Wright, the son of former Vermont Speaker of the House Ralph Wright, is an experienced slate roof installer who travels all over the country for clients doing slate roofs for all types of buildings. He established his company, Vermont SlateWright, in Bennington eight years ago. The work is physical demanding. Not only are you working at great heights but the slate is heavy. Every piece of slate has holed drilled by hand. The slate is carefully positioned and then attached to the wooden roof deck with copper nails.
John Hill is the owner o Greenstone Slate of Poultney, which is both a business and a quarry. “Our company started in 1954 but the quarries have been in operation since the 1860’s, ” Hill explained. “The area around West Pawlet was settled by Welsh and Irish miners and these quarries once employed 7,000 men.” It’s probable, he said, that the slate used on the original 1832 school building was also quarried in Poultney
“It had always been my hope to see a slate roof on this beautiful building,” said BBS Clerk of the works Ken Glasier. “Bob Smith got the ball rolling when he’s asked if it could happen and we’re very grateful to our friends who supplied and installed the slate.”