Photo of Wisdom barn

Renewal of Wisdom Barn

Wisdom Barn is nestled between a hillside oak savanna and a restored prairie close to Lake Mendota and across the lake from the State Capital in Madison. It is a German style hillside dairy barn built in the 1890s with white pine timbers and siding. After farm operations ceased in the 1970s the old barn fell into disrepair. In 2012, Holy Wisdom Monastery, an inclusive and welcoming ecumenical community in the Benedictine tradition, acquired this old barn as part of a purchase of adjoining agricultural land, which has since been restored to a high quality native prairie.

“The red barn framed in the oak hill setting stirs the imagination of many guests, volunteers, staff and the sisters for its future. With many suggestions the last one of preserving it for historical reasons seems to enhance the setting of the prairie and oak savanna. Thank you for considering our request.”

–Sister Mary David Walgenbach, Prioress at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Stabilizing Wisdom Barn – Phase I

Safe, Secure, Stable

In 2022, we completed the first stage of the Wisdom Barn preservation project. The roof, foundation, siding, floors and windows were all repaired, patched, straightened, stabilized, and will now stand the test of time for the next 100 years.

Phase 1 Stabilization (Complete)
Revenue Raised: $91,950
Project Expenses: $91,350

  • Roof – $32,880
  • Foundation – $20,000
  • Siding – $12,800
  • Floors – $10,900
  • Clean Up & Materials – $8,920
  • Windows – $5,850

With gratitude, we honor those who have given to the project!

Stabilization Update

Preserving Wisdom Barn – Phase II

With the completion of phase 1 – stabilization, phase 2 – preservation is in our view. This phase of the project will focus on painting, flooring, additional clean up, gutters, entry steps and building an interior staircase.

Forecasted Project Expenses: $31,100

  • Flooring – $10,000
  • Painting – $7,100
  • Upper barn clean up – $6,000
  • Gutters – $3,000
  • Entry Steps – $3,000
  • Interior Staircase – $2,000

Tour Wisdom Barn

If you would like to view Wisdom Barn for yourself, we are now able to safely invite guests into the barn for guided tours. Peter Marshall, Friend of Wisdom Prairie member and steadfast volunteer, can be reached at 651-328-9895 or by email at to share the story of the barn.

A Special Sneak Preview for Wisdom Barn Donors

On June 28, 2022, phase I donors were invited to a special unveiling of the phase I improvements. We wish to offer a special thank you for all who prayed, volunteered, and provided financial resources needed to keep the barn from falling, and for allowing it to enhance the setting of the sister’s Wisdom Prairie and the oak savanna.

Click on a photo to enlarge and see more photos from the sneak preview event.

Join in Preserving Wisdom Barn

Would you consider uniting with our community of communities to preserve Wisdom Barn for the future? Your tax-deductible gift will help honor the heritage of the barn and restore a piece of Wisconsin history.

Gifts to this project can be made securely online below or by check payable to Benedictine Life Foundation with Wisdom Barn written in the memo and sent to Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Road M, Middleton, WI 53562.

 View the Handout Above


Please contact Lara Dulin Perez, director of donor services, with questions about donating to Wisdom Barn at 608-836-1631, x120,

For additional information about Wisdom Barn contact Toby Grabs at 608-836-1631, x108,

Thank You to Our
Pillars of Community
and Wisdom Barn Donors

Together you have raised $91,950* for Wisdom Barn.

* As of June 24, 2022

Anonymous (3) ^
Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation ^
Schlecht Family Foundations ^
Karla Bukstein
Lynne Cleeland
Sandra Collins ^
Judi Dilks and Rex Merrill
Paula and Bob Dinndorf ^
Lois and James Downing ^
John and Corrine Flad ^
Sharon and Robert Gilson ^
Mary Hampton
Cathy Jones ^
Larry Kruckman and Carolyn White ^
Margaret and Daniel Lee ^
Peggy Lescrenier ^
Abbie Loomis ^
Bruce and Jan Maas ^
Dr Gary Maier ^
Peter Marshall ^
Sally and Thomas McCoy
Maia McNamara
Gordon and Kristy Meicher ^
Ann and David Moyer ^
George Potaracke ^
Marian and David Quade ^
Amy L. Ryan
Michael Stier
Barbara Thoman
Kathleen Wessels
John J. Whalen ^
Tina Wood
Mike and Sue Zaleski
Margarita Zamora

^ Pillars of Community