Embarking on a monumental journey five years in the making, the McGough team undertook the exterior restoration of the historic Saint Paul Cathedral. A beacon of architectural brilliance since its completion in 1915, the Cathedral has held a distinguished place on the National Register of Historic Buildings since 1974.
The comprehensive restoration included a meticulous approach to ensure the longevity of this historic gem. The 60,000 square feet copper roof, well beyond its expected lifespan, was replaced with a substantial upgrade featuring a thicker gauge copper incorporating and five additional layers. With a strategic shift in design, the main roofing elements were positioned below the copper for greater durability and longevity.
The exterior stone underwent a delicate cleaning process which involved micro-blasting with fiberglass beads to restore its original color without causing damage. Cracked stones were meticulously replaced with material sourced from the original stone mine still in operation in Cold Spring, MN, and the entire stone façade was tuckpointed. A staggering 47 miles of mortar joints were replaced with premixed mortar, ensuring uniform performance.
Addressing safety concerns brought up by the Cathedral’s maintenance team, our team installed walkways and stairs in the interstitial space between the outer and inner domes, spanning up to 75 feet apart. Given that the outer dome structure couldn’t support the necessary scaffolding, a complex structural steel system was installed to transfer the load to the exterior wall and down to the foundation.
As the fourth-largest Cathedral in America, attracting 200,000 visitors annually, maintaining continuous operation was a priority throughout the restoration. Meticulous safety measures were implemented, allowing the public to witness the transformation without compromise.
A special connection ties McGough to the Saint Paul Cathedral, with multiple generations of the McGough family contributing to various projects, spanning from the Cathedral’s original construction to this latest exterior restoration. This project not only showcased our technical abilities as a general contractor but also highlights the enduring partnership between our team and this historic landmark.
The exterior restoration project took place in 2001-2003. McGough has maintained an ongoing relationship with the acting rector of the Cathedral and has since performed multiple other projects.