National Cathedral Repairs Could Cost Millions, Take Years

The Cathedral will remain closed at least through Sunday, forcing the planned MLK ceremony to be moved to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the D.C. region yesterday, had a "" on the Washington National Cathedral but, "it could have been worse," said Sam Lloyd, dean of the cathedral.

Engineers are still so no one could offer a set figure on the costs. But Joe Alonso, the chief mason for the cathedral, estimated that the cost of repairs and renovation would be in the millions. 

"None of the damage will be covered by insurance," said Richard Weinberg, the spokesman for the cathedral.

The cathedral was built, not like a typical hospital or apartment structure is, but instead "stone upon stone," architect-engineer James Cutts told reporters at the press conference Wednesday.

Cutts said the cathedral has a sound structural frame and that much of the damage happened to the weakest points of the building, "the delicate and lacy pinnacles."

Engineers are still evaluating the damage to determine whether the remaining structure of the pinnacles and other elements will need to be replaced or if they can be repaired.

"Each pinnacle is a work of art" added Alonso, and when it comes time to repair or replace them, the masons will "respect the work of our forefathers."

To err on the side of safety, the cathedral will remain closed through Sunday. The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will no longer take place at the cathedral Saturday and has instead been moved to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The planned services for the weekend of 9/11 will, however, still happen at cathedral. The events are "full speed ahead," Lloyd said.

No one was willing or able to give an estimate of the timeline for full restoration, but the consensus was "years."

"We may be seeing half of a pinnacle for a while," Alonso said.

Lloyd added that the timeline depends in part on the cathedral's ability to raise the needed funds.

"We will call on the very same kinds of people who got this built," he said, "People from across the country."


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