U.S. National Cathedral to re-open, but needs quake repairs

Washington (ENI) Washington National Cathedral will need "tens of millions of dollars" over "numerous years" to repair extensive damage to the nation's second-largest church following an Aug. 23 earthquake, church officials said Oct. 4.

The landmark church requires $25 million “just to get to June 2012, for the first phase of work … we know it will ultimately be much more,” said Richard Weinberg, a spokesman for the cathedral, Religion News Service reports via USA Today. The building has been closed since the quake, with services held at other locations in the U.S. capital. It is scheduled to reopen Nov. 12 for the consecration of the Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the new Episcopal bishop of Washington.

The Episcopal cathedral, which advertises itself as “a spiritual home for all,” has been the setting for presidential funerals and other major national events. An estimated 35,000 worshipers and visitors normally arrive there every month. Its stone-upon-stone, hand-crafted Gothic architecture took 83 years, from 1907 to 1990, to complete. In the earthquake, the central tower sustained damage on three of its four corner spires, and three capstones fell off. There are cracks on some of the upper floors and in some of the flying buttresses, a distinguishing feature of Gothic architecture, in the oldest portion of the building. Work crews have attempted to stabilize the damage, but were delayed by Hurricane Irene, which hit one week after the quake, and by a crane that toppled over Sept. 7, damaging two other buildings in the complex. The cathedral is waiting for the same team of experts that has been rappelling down the quake-damaged Washington Monument to finish there and move a few miles to the hilltop cathedral.