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Marten Machining Creates Customized Replicas of Historic UWSP Old Main Cupola

By Kathy Marks

Old Main is the signature building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) — and the beacon atop that recognizable and beloved building is a cupola topped by a 118-year-old weathervane. In 2011, the UWSP launched a $60,000 restoration project to repair the 22-foot cupola, which had begun to lean, had lost sections of the fascia molding and was subject to weathering because of peeling paint.

As part of the restoration project, artist and ironwork expert Boleslaw Kochanowski, Jr. forged an exact replica of the century-old weathervane. Kochanowski was trained by his father — a master blacksmith from Poland. Ellis Stone was responsible for cupola restoration work.

Al Marten, of Marten Machining, met with UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson after hearing of the restoration. Patterson was interested in creating a memento of the campus icon that he could provide to donors whose generous donations had helped fund the restoration project. After the meeting, the team at Marten Machining set about creating a 3D model based on photos of the historic cupola.

Notes Dave Marten, “The entire project was a group effort by a lot of different students who work at Marten Machining. The design of the brass memento was modeled by a student intern from the UW-Platteville; and the creative problem solving and programming of our high precision five-axis machine was completed by a variety of graduates of central Wisconsin technical schools, including Mid-State Technical College.”

The Marten team utilized the turning center and five-axis machine to create the separate brass pieces that comprise the Old Main cupola replica — the top piece, pillars and bottom. Marten Machining also designed a customized cylindrical carrying case. The carrying case is actually comprised of two pieces, but appears to be a one-piece cylinder. When one of the two pins holding the case together is removed, an automatic release instantly opens the other side of the case. The cupola’s classical garland was replicated by milling a curved relief pattern into the material.

Some of the Marten Machining team attended the “topping out” ceremony for the Old Main building. The customized replica was on display as the restored cupola was unveiled at a reception on campus.

“Marten Machining is successful because of the capabilities, training and intelligence of our employees,” adds Marten. “And those employees are a product of the regional universities and technical colleges of northcentral Wisconsin. We were honored to take part in a project that restored one of the most visible and historic icons of the UWSP, and to provide former students with the opportunity to utilize their creativity and skills to create such a unique memento on behalf of an educational system that has had a positive experience on their lives.”