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commercial remodeling

Sisters of Mary Morning Star Convent

Monona, WI

Convent at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church & School in Monona grows deeper roots in Diocese and community with addition encompassing living and work space

A 3,204 square foot addition to the Sisters of Mary Morning Star Convent at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church & School in Monona, Wisconsin, was designed to create more living and working space for the sisters to engage with the Madison community. NCI-Roberts Construction completed phase one of the multi-story project in just six months.

Rendering of convent with addition
Front view
Front view
Entire front view
Front view
Back view of addition
Back view
Entire back view

Space constraints limited community connections

The convent hoped to grow to 10 sisters in order to create an ideal fellowship balance, but they found themselves at maximum capacity with only seven. Limited workspaces barely the size of an office cubicle also meant they struggled to create the wood carvings, candles, pottery, jam, and rosaries that supported their livelihood — in order to maintain their life of prayer, the sisters rely on this craft income alongside donations.

University of Wisconsin-Madison students involved at St. Paul University Catholic Center, with whom the sisters have a spiritual relationship, frequently asked to stay at the convent for short prayer retreats, but there simply wasn’t space for them. The convent also struggled to comfortably host 10-15 of these young college women for monthly evenings of prayer, philosophy, and fellowship.

The sisters saw the impact they could have on the surrounding community, but the constraints of their existing space kept getting in the way.

New addition paves the way for future growth

When one contractor thought the project was too big and another deemed it too small, NCI-Roberts Construction stepped in as the perfect fit. In six months, phase one was complete and the sisters began to enjoy their new space — it even came in under budget.

The nearly $500,000 project, called “Making a Home in Madison,” included tearing down the existing garage to build a two-story addition.

Small seating area
Dining space
ADA bathroom
ADA bathroom
Guest room

The first floor is made up of guest rooms for people who attend retreats at the convent, like the students from St. Paul’s. When the convent doesn’t have guests, the sisters use these rooms as additional workspaces to continue honing their crafts. Each room has a bed, chair, and desk to provide space for both rest and study. This level is also home to a kitchenette with pantry and dining space, a small seating area available to those staying in the guest rooms, and storage space.

Hallway to cloister cells and connection to existing structure
Addition looking into the existing structure
Stairs to first floor

The upper level consists of cloister cells for the sisters, providing enough space for them to host the 10 women they’d hoped for. Each cell has its own mattress, desk, and prayer area, allowing the sisters to enjoy quiet time in reflection. Prioress Sister Mary Thomas Leary also now has a private office on the second floor.

The new space has allowed the Sisters of Mary Morning Star Convent to form deeper roots in the Diocese and engage in more community growth and development.

Basement and future workspace

Looking forward to phase two

Within the next few years, NCI-Roberts hopes to finish phase two of the project, creating additional workspace in the basement level.

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