Historic Restoration Project

Catlin Chapel was built in 1878 as a memorial to John Catlin, one of Madison’s earliest attorneys and businessmen. John Catlin was Clerk of the Territorial Supreme Court at the first session in Belmont WI (The First State Capitol). Mr. Catlin aided in platting Madison in 1837 and was the first City Postmaster, first lawyer in Madison, first District Attorney, Dane County’s first judge and president of the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad. He also served as secretary of the Wisconsin Territory between 1846 and 1848, before Wisconsin became a state in 1848. The chapel was built of Madison sand and Indiana limestone and includes a small tower and bell. The Catlin Chapel was used by visitors to the cemetery for prayer, reflection, and shelter in its early years. At the time of its construction, Forest Hill was a three mile walk from Madison; the chapel was used for rest by visitors who made the long walk.

In 2015, the restoration at the chapel’s roof with slate and lead coated copper restored the chapel’s exterior to its original condition.