Pictured is a Model T Ford pickup used for roofing in the early 1920s. Charles Kirberg – of Kirberg Company, still in business today – is pictured posing with his son in St. Louis.
The history of roofing back then…
Shingles. Shapes were not only rectangular, but were in the shape of diamonds, appeared thatched, or could have scalloped edges. When the Great Depression hit the United States, the variety in shape decreased, but the want for differences in color increased. The popularity of asphalt roofing skyrocketed in the 20’s due mostly to the National Board of Fire Underwriters’ push to eliminate wooden roofs. Consumers appreciated the variety of machine-produced shingle sizes and shapes.
Steel. Siding was patented from this material in 1939 and used first in Chicago. Demands halted during World War II due to lack of material, money, and manpower. After the war, the housing shortage revived the industry.
Work Force. In that time, people were fighting for rights in their work environments. Roofers didn’t have the safety precautions in place that they do now. It was often just a 2-man, family-run operation.