Gates of Heaven Masonry Restoration
Updated Sept. 30, 2021
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Gates of Heaven, Shaare Shomaim Synagogue, was constructed in 1863 as designed by local architect August Kutzbock. After being threatened with demolition, the building was relocated from its original site on West Washington Avenue to James Madison Park in 1971. The land now used as James Madison Park is the ancestral land of the Ho-Chunk people. Gates of Heaven is now used as an events space that is managed by the City of Madison Parks Division.
The existing mortar was carefully removed and replaced with a soft mortar. A soft mortar serves as a cushion that allows the brick to expand and contract without damage. The new mortar must match the qualities of the old mortar in composition, texture, color, and joint profile. The mortar was placed into the joint and finished to create a weather tight surface. At Gates of Heaven, the mortar joint was brush pounded to create the historically appropriate profile. The historic brick is in good condition and only a few brick required replacement.
The Madison sandstone on the front façade of Gates of Heaven is weathered and stately. Madison sandstone was a plentiful building material in the mid to late 1800s. It was locally quarried and easily carved with architectural detail. It is a very soft stone and without proper care, it deteriorates rapidly. The stone was cleaned using the gentlest means possible to remove the loose sand, dirt and biological growth. The mortar was removed from the joints and replaced with a soft mortar to allow the stone to expand and contract with the seasons. The consolidation involved applying a solution to the stone to bond the outer surface to the inner stone. Because the stone restoration process was technical, it was completed by trained professionals to properly preserve the priceless stone.
While the masonry restoration is critical, the restoration and maintenance of the historic windows and doors is also important to preserve the character of Gates of Heaven. The circular and arched top windows all require some type of maintenance or repair. The glazing putty must be carefully removed where it is no longer adhered and new glazing putty will be installed. The doors, sash, and trim require assessment for Dutchman and epoxy repairs. Once repairs were complete, the windows and doors were painted and storm windows will be installed to protect the historic features.
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This project restores the masonry, windows and doors at Gates of Heaven which is a landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The scope includes cleaning and consolidation of the Madison sandstone, limited repairs to stone, cleaning of brick, repointing of stone and brick, rehabilitation of the wood sash, doors, and related trim, and installation of exterior storms on all windows.
City User Agency: Parks
1st Advertisement of Bid extended to: Sept. 24, 2020 available on Bid Express
Pre-Bid Building/Site Tours:
Tuesday, August 18, 2020 @ 2:00 pm at the project site, 300 E. Gorham St.
Bid Due Date: September 24, 2020
Construction Start Date: March 2021
Expected Completion Date: June 8, 2021
"All information regarding dates/times/locations are informational and should be verified with official bidding documents posted on Bid Express."
Gates of Heaven - Existing condition
Awarding Public Works Contract No. 8916, Gates of Heaven Exterior Restoration