Campus History

Architectural Nip/Tuck

masonry repair

Photo: Jeff Miller

A construction worker packs mortar between sandstone blocks on South Hall during the building’s restoration in June 2011. Both South and North halls required façade-lifts this summer. North Hall, the university’s oldest building, opened in 1851, and South Hall opened in 1855, and their exterior walls were beginning to crumble due to age and water damage. The UW wanted to restore both structures’ original appearance, so it hired mason and historic preservation specialist John Speweik of Speweik Preservation Consultants to train stone workers to create an authentic, nineteenth-century mortar. The masons had to remove and re-dress some of the stones, and to replace others using sandstone blocks retrieved from Madison’s St. Raphael’s Cathedral, which burned down in 2005. “It was a unique, cutting-edge job — literally,” Speweik says. “We wanted to give the stones the same chisel marks they’d had originally, and to re-dress them in place, without taking down the wall. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that before.”

Published in the Winter 2011 issue


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