Gates of Heaven

Project Background

Built in 1863, the Gates of Heaven Synagogue (NRHP #70000030) is the eighth oldest surviving synagogue building in the nation and was built of Madison sandstone. It was designed in the Rundbogenstil style, a nineteenth-century German form of Romanesque Revival. The original architect was August Kutzbock, known best as the architect for Wisconsin’s second State Capitol Building. Saved from demolition by the City of Madison, it was moved to James Madison Park in 1971. At the start of this project in 2018, the exterior of the building was degrading: with deteriorating wood windows and trim; discoloration and biological growth on the body of the building; and portions of the Madison sandstone were eroding to sand.


Intensive two-year study of the Madison sandstone for the best methods of stabilization and consolidation

Investigation and harvesting of stones from seven other sources collaborating with other local businesses

World-wide search for compatible replacement stone

Evaluating proper repointing mortar types and techniques

Rigorous building survey for proper stone, wood window, and wood trim repair and replacement components

Working with masonry specialist partners to develop techniques, specifications, and budget pricing

Trained and certified the masons on all masonry restoration and treatment

Followed the Secretary of the Interior Standards Guidelines for Rehabilitation and the

Preservation Brief recommendations for masonry and window restoration.


Our team worked directly with the City of Madison staff to deliver a project that met their scope, schedule, and budget. The stone erosion was stabilized through a sound solution for stone repairs and consolidation without changing the properties of the stone. The wood windows and trim were restored, inside and out, to provide a watertight exterior envelope and protect the intact interior. Our design team also trained and certified the masonry team to provide skilled labor to rehabilitate the building envelope to meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for Masonry Restoration. This restoration will allow the building to function for the next 100 years.

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Gates of Heaven 13

Stabilization and repair of Madison Sandstone treasure 

Intensive 2‑year study of proper repair techniques

Wood window and trim restoration

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Gates of Heaven 12

Photo by Zane Williams Photography

Gates of Heaven 14

Photo by Zane Williams Photography

Gates of Heaven 11

Photo by Zane Williams Photography

Gates of Heaven 10

Photo by Zane Williams Photography