Phase 1 of Washington National Cathedral repairs complete

National Cathedral reports on its rebuilding campaign following the 2011 earthquake

On February 18, Washington National Cathedral hosted the media for a special announcement and celebration of the completion of Phase I repairs. Watch the video below to view the announcement and read more about the ongoing earthquake restoration work at Washington National Cathedral.

The August 2011 magnitude-5.8 earthquake shook Washington National Cathedral and caused approximately $32 million in damage. The seismic event rotated pinnacles, cracked mortar, chipped and cracked limestone, and briefly took flying buttresses out of compression. Following an initial stabilization, the Cathedral reopened after 12 weeks.

In the months following, some damaged areas were disassembled and an extensive network of stabilization scaffolding both secured structures and provided access for examination and formulation of plans for repair and reinforcement.

Phase I repairs began in March 2014 and addressed the interior high ceiling of the nave and restoration of the six flying buttresses around the apse, or east end of the Cathedral. The nave vaulting and windows were inspected, cleaned, and repaired. Akoustolith tile were secured and sealed. Decades of dirt were carefully removed, and failed caulking was replaced.

When the six apse buttresses lost compression during the quake, a few stones slipped out of position, leaving visible gaps in the buttresses, while other stones fractured, sending chunks of stone to the ground below. Restoration work filled the voids, replaced the broken stones with Dutchmen repairs, and reinforced the flyers with stainless steel rods and grout to ensure better performance in any future seismic event.

This week, the final interior scaffolding is coming down; the work at the high ceiling is complete. The scaffolding on the apse buttresses will also be completely removed during the next few days. The view of the fully restored nave is breathtaking, and all that the Cathedral does in this space has a feeling of openness and vitality—as well as improved acoustics and inspiration with the return of views of the clerestory windows and the boss stones, now cleaned for the first time ever.

A bit of residual work in the side aisles will be completed over the coming weeks. A public celebration of the completion of Phase I will be scheduled after Lent and Easter. The Cathedral is extremely grateful for the support that has made this work possible and the diligent work of Davis Construction and Lorton Stone to return the building to its former glory.

The remaining work—approximately 85% of the exterior work, in fact—awaits funding from generous individuals and institutions. The work will likely take years, even a decade, to complete and will cost $22 million or more. This work includes the central tower grand pinnacles, the engaged buttresses on the length of the nave, the exterior stonework on the transepts, and the pinnacles on the west towers.

Your continued support is urgently needed to move forward with this major undertaking. Please use the form below to continue your support and give generously to enable Phase II work to begin. Thank you!

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