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Rescued historic building is clad with huge metal U.S. flag

An all-out, small town community effort to save a landmark building led to a creative and patriotic application of Petersen’s HWP panels. The Conover Square building in Oregon, Ill. (population 3,721) originally was constructed in the early 1890’s as a piano manufacturing factory. Additions to the building continued for the next 20 years, and by the late 1970’s much of the 120,000-sq.-ft. building had been reconfigured to become an indoor shopping village and home to a myriad of small businesses. But time had taken its toll and the concrete wall on the south side of the building was failing and in desperate need of repair. Chunks of stucco literally were falling off and creating a hazard.

Faced with the likelihood of the building being closed, the town rallied around a grassroots effort to repair and save the grand old structure. Spearheaded by several local citizens, a committee known as Hands On Oregon was formed using Blackhawk Hills Regional Council as a 501c3 non-profit corporation to manage funds for the repair work while the committee waited for its own 501c3 status to be approved. HOO members did much of the work and oversaw the project. The organization received more than $182,000 from local citizens, civic groups and one very large anonymous donor. In addition, 1,700 volunteer hours were spent working on the repair, said HOO president Rick Ryland. “No one wanted to see this still-functional, historic old building demolished. The project to save it was embraced by the entire community,” Ryland said.

The once-failing south wall of the building is now totally clad with 10,000 sq. ft. of Petersen’s PAC-CLAD HWP panels. And embedded in the facade—also constructed of HWP Panels—is an American flag measuring approximately 60-ft. by 30-ft. Believed to be the second largest affixed American flag in the United States, the flag is proportionately accurate and relies on PAC-CLAD colors Cardinal Red, Award Blue and Bone White to create the image. The HWP panels cladding the remainder of the 250-ft. wall are finished in Sandstone. The panels were fabricated at Petersen’s headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill. The stars for the flag were fabricated from 14 gauge steel by Triple Cutt Design in Oregon, Ill., and screwed into position.

The selection of the Petersen HWP panels was made by HOO president Rick Ryland and his committee. Ryland, a self-described handyman, knew he needed panels installed horizontally to create the flag, and he wanted concealed fasteners. “We did a lot of research regarding various panel manufacturers,” Ryland said. “We found that Petersen had an excellent reputation. And their available panel sizes allowed us to get the proper dimensions for the flag. Petersen was great to work with.”

Installation of the PAC-CLAD panels was done by Tip Top Roofing and Construction in Sycamore, Ill. “Tip Top did a fabulous job. And they also donated a portion of their labor time which was much appreciated,” Ryland said.

Tip Top Roofing owner Kapu Aluli said both he and Rick Ryland came to the same conclusion that PAC-CLAD was the right product to use. “I felt Petersen was the most professional and offered the best technical support for the project,” Aluli said. “It was certainly an unusual application. We framed out the flag using J-channels to create the panel color changes. We went to great lengths to make sure the dimensions of the flag were accurate. The availability of PAC-CLAD 12-in. and 16-in. panels allowed us to achieve the proper scale. This was an all-out community effort and I knew we wanted to be part of it.”

Located on a sloping site leading down to the Rock River, the Conover Square building is visible from a roadway leading into Oregon. “I never dreamed that the flag would show so beautifully from a distance as you cross the bridge to come into town,” Ryland said. “Everyone is delighted. Better yet, we saved an important hub of commerce and preserved a local landmark and part of our history.”