Climb the steeple of St. John’s Cathedral with Matterport digital twins

Learn how Axiom Virtual Tours created a 3D digital twin of a historic cathedral for preservation purposes with Matterport

Axiom Virtual Tours specializes in seamless visualizations for their clients, and St. John’s Cathedral in Jefferson, Wisconsin is no exception. The preservation of this historic monument allows virtual visitors an unparalleled experience.

The marketing directors, Matterport Capture Technicians, and drone pilots for Axiom Virtual Tours, Bruce & Belinda Fuller, expound upon the importance of this space, and how Matterport made it possible.

What inspired the 3D capture of this space?

The primary inspiration for capturing this space was to preserve the current condition of this church for future generations. We truly believe that all historic structures and locations should be preserved with this tremendous technology.

An excellent example of why recording our past is so important is the Notre Dame fire. Fortunately, there had been extensive 3D scans completed of Notre Dame prior to the tragic fire, providing a highly-detailed virtual model to work from, making reconstruction easier and closer to its original grandeur.

We were also extremely excited to create this model for our local church to share on their website with the world and its congregation. It’s a beautiful church and it was a challenge, but we absolutely love a good challenge!

What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why?

There are a total of 35 must-sees in this model marked with Mattertags, however, our top three are:

  1. Our interview with Father Tom Coyle which can be found at the narthex (Mattertag No. 5).  Father Tom is an amazing, likeable, and funny man with his knowledge of the church only secondary to his knowledge of the scriptures!

    St. John’s Cathedral 3
  2. Capturing the entire steeple in one 3D scan was a huge goal for us. We wanted people to have the chance to climb their way to the top and see the inside of the steeple. Although it was a very challenging area to capture, it proved to be full of surprises and well worth the effort. When you make it to the top, you can still read inscriptions made on the beams from the craftsmen who built the church over 100 years ago. Another hidden gem we discovered was the custom inscriptions on all 5 bells which were specifically made for this church (as you will be able to read on each uniquely inscribed bell). While you are up there, you can also watch a video of the main bell ringing. It includes a clip from the TV show “Dirtiest Jobs” where the bell maker that made this church’s bells over 100 years ago is featured.

    St. John’s Cathedral 1
  3. The dual model that is linked to this space is aesthetically beautiful and critically important to preserving this awesome location. Creating a dual model was born out of necessity because we did not want to lose the beauty of the main chapel while viewing it from dollhouse mode. We also wanted to capture the architecture above the chapel, so we created a separate scan of the space above it. A link at the base of the steeple allows viewers to freely jump back and forth between the models. The old-world construction that is clearly visible above the chapel is truly amazing.

    St. John’s Cathedral 2

Do you have any plans to capture more 3D experiences?

We have already completed numerous unique scans of epic proportions, such as a half mile guided journey of the Stations of The Cross at Holy Hill Basilica, multiple parks, and hundreds of locations large and small. We currently scan more residential and commercial real estate than anything else, but we do love pushing the limits of this technology and are always looking for the next challenging or historic location to share with the world and preserve for future generations.

Anything else you would like to add?

We were truly honored to help create this model for St. John the Baptist Catholic School & Church in Jefferson, WI and appreciate every time a client chooses to have us help them. We want visitors to experience the detail, magnificence, and beauty of this beautiful church as well as its history. This 3D tour also serves as a fine example of one of the many uses of a virtual digital twin

We feel we have an equal commitment to our clients as well as our industry to create a virtual experience that is smooth and enjoyable. Experiencing a “bad model,” or frustrations for a user within a model, creates misconceptions about our industry.  Good enough is never good enough, and practice does make perfect. We will keep on scanning the world and shooting for perfection!


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