From the Archives: Restoration of Milwaukee Federal Building’s Wood Windows

Surviving a winter in Wisconsin isn’t the easiest thing to do. Surviving 110 of them is nothing short of amazing. That’s exactly what the windows at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin have been through. The courthouse is a Milwaukee landmark and is a picturesque example of Romanesque architecture, but its 650+ windows had suffered some serious neglect and improper maintenance since being installed over a century ago.

Beginning in 2007, New Millennium Construction, Inc. of Crestview, Florida, began the two-year process of restoring the windows and exterior woodwork to their original condition. The first step was to remove up to 18 layers of paint that had accumulated on the sills and sashes over the years.

In the next step, LiquidWood® was used extensively to treat the soft, rotted areas that had been damaged by the constant exposure to the elements. By penetrating and hardening within the wood, LiquidWood permanently repairs and solidifies the material, making the wood structural again. After treatment with LiquidWood, WoodEpox® was used to fill cracks, checks, and missing sections of wood. Corners were rebuilt using forms and large voids in the sills were filled in, in order to restore the windows to their original shapes. Once cured, both materials were sanded and machined just like the original wood.

Only 16 of the original 650 windows were deteriorated beyond restoration. These windows were replaced with mahogany replicas in order to hold up to the harsh exterior conditions. Once reinstalled and painted the windows were finished with freshly restored brass hardware, bringing the windows back to their original appearance.  With proper maintenance and care, the original windows should last another 100 years!