Rare artisans are at work on University of Wisconsin-Madison restoration project

Kylie Lacey's picture

It is a humid 89-degree morning when Jacob Arndt unloads his truck of chisels and other tools onto a table at the University Club, where he begins massaging one of two slabs of Indiana limestone.

The 1,000-pound stone, untouched before grinders and saws dwindled it down to a rectangle, was chiseled by hand into a finished product with smooth curves and delicate rims.

“It’s a dead art,” Arndt said while brushing the smooth stone that will become a cornice — a horizontal, decorative molding that goes along the top of a building.

The art Arndt, owner of Madison-based Northwestern Masonry, refers to is hand stone carving.

Arndt and Gayal Oglesbay, another Madison stone carver and owner of Earthly Designs, began working on the exterior restoration of the University Club, 803 State St., early last fall.

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