Stonecutters save original carvers' work

Stonecutters Save a Minnesota Treasure


Contemporary stonecutters restore original carvers' work

During April, 2014, stonecutters working on the restoration of the Minnesota State Capitol completed the carving of some of the most intricate ornamentation of the building. The delicate marble lady slipper designs of the capitals atop the freestanding columns and the bas relief pilasters have been badly eroded by more than a hundred years of Minnesota weather and many have to be replaced.

Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 1 members Scott Halverson and Mark Wickstrom, working with foreman Steve McIntosh and apprentice Henry Kisitu, for Twin City Tile and Marble, put the finishing touches on models of the ornamental features, which will be copied in Georgia marble by carvers from Polycor subcontractor Traditional Cutstone in Toronto.

Master Stone Carver

Wickstrom is the most experienced carver on the project. He has worked on many prominent Twin Cities structures, including the incised lettering on the nearby Workers Memorial. A native of the Iron Range, Wickstrom won a BAC scholarship to study stone carving in France for a year and a half and the union later sent him to apprentice in Germany for two and a half years. He is the only American to earn German certification as a Master Stonecutter and Carver.Mark passed on his skills as the former apprenticeship coordinator for the local.

Wickstrom admires the craftsmanship of the Minnesota statehouse stonework, originally carved largely by immigrant artisans. He expressed his thanks to the legislators and governor for approving funding for the comprehensive restoration of the Capitol in the nick of time, before this architectural treasure deteriorates beyond repair.

Minnesota Public Radio produced a piece about Mark Wickstrom that was broadcast on April 20, 2015.

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