Decades Long Restoration of National Cathedral


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Decades Long Restoration of National Cathedral

The National Cathedral in Washington D.C., a magnificent 14th-century Gothic-style landmark, was severely damaged when an earthquake rocked the city on August 23, 2011. The earthquake’s seismic energy shot up through the cathedral’s highest elements “like the tip of a whip,” shaking its intricately carved pinnacles and slender spires, sending finials and angels plummeting, causing heavy stones to rotate dramatically and flying buttresses to crack. Decorative carvings lay shattered in pieces on the roof and in the gutters. Giant stones that make up the four grand pinnacles of the central tower had shifted almost completely off their mortar beds and were perched precariously, looking “like a game of Jenga.” Three of the four pinnacles were missing their tops. The 500-pound, four-foot-tall finials that crown them had crashed to the tower’s roof.

All told, the cathedral sustained a staggering $34 million in damage. As funding comes in from generous donors, the staff has been able to tackle the earthquake restoration work in phases, making slow but impressive progress, including critical masonry repairs and reinforcement to the west towers, flying buttresses and north transept. But after nine years, there is still $19 million to raise and a monumental amount of work to accomplish.



It is magnificent and so hopefully money will be found to complete the restorations. Earthquakes cause such awful damage. I recently had my outside areas tiled and was thrilled with the result until a recent earthquake caused deep cracks in three of the new tiles and that was before we had completed the work!
It seems there is always something: earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, even terrorism. Some disaster that inevitably will make it so nothing can stay the same. Not forever anyway, but it sucks when you can hardly keep your own house tiles in tact for a few months!