September 23, 2011
What does it take to revitalize a dying town? In the case of Downingtown, PA, renovating an old mill buildinginto a dynamic restaurant was a good place to start.
As industries have changed, the manufacturing district near Brandywine Creek in Downingtown became increasingly riddled with vacant mills. Local leaders struggled with how to revitalize the area while maintaining the city’s historic ties to mills and manufacturing. One of the first projects that was undertaken to reinvigorate downtown Downingtown was to convert an old mill building to a contemporary restaurant, the Firecreek Restaurant & Bar. Firecreek sits on the banks of Brandywine Creek and has provided a blueprint for how to maintain the town’s historical ties while giving the area some contemporary flare.
“A lot of people consider this project, due to its proximity to downtown, to be the catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Downingtown,” said Tom Deignan, president of Carroll Contractors, the general contractor for the project. Carroll architects also designed the project.
Deignan was determined to modernize the structure while also using as many original elements of the mill building as possible. The metal roof of the restaurant, 3,700 square feet of 24-gauge galvalume snap-on panels, was the key to tying the contemporary and historic elements together, Deignan said. The original mill building was constructed in the early 1800s and also sported a metal roof. Deignan knew from the beginning that he wanted to incorporate a new metal roof into the building’s redesign. The result was a structure that harkened back to the mill’s roots with the sparkling galvalume roof providing a cosmetic boost. The silver roof compliments the building’s original fieldstone walls, and its large windows allow for bright, natural lighting during the day and an open but intimate feel at night.
Firecreek Restaurant, which opened in 2009, occupies a 6,200 square foot stone building that formerly housed a sawmill and then the Brandywine Paper Mill. Deignan knew that the galvalume roof would be the key feature that would bridge the building’s past to its future.
The galvalume roof provided the bridge he was looking for and more, earning the 2010 Presidents Award for Metal Roofing by the Metal Construction Association. He said in addition to its historic architectural features, the galvalume roof is durable, requires little maintenance and was easy to install. “That’s one of the beauties of it,” Deignan said. “Because it’s prefabricated and cut to specification, installation is very efficient.”
For more information about how the use of metal transformed this building and to see photos of this retrofit case study, visit The Metal Initiative Web site at www.themetalinitiative.com. Currently, there are more than 50 case studies in the gallery.
The Metal Initiative is an industry-wide program to educate commercial building owners, architects, and contractors about the use of metal in the building envelope. Visit www.themetalinitiative.com for additional information and educational resources in the commercial construction market.