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Posted at 04:16 PM ET, 10/04/2011

National Cathedral reopens Nov. 12, but needs $15 million for earthquake damage and expenses

Officials plan to reopen Washington National Cathedral on Nov. 12, but they also said Tuesday that much work remains to repair the damage caused by last summer’s earthquake.

( Photos: A look at the earthquake-damaged landmark )

The cathedral needs to raise at least $15 million for initial repairs to the earthquake-damaged edifice, the officials said, and the chief stone mason there believes overall repairs could take a decade to complete.


Head stone mason Joe Alonso discusses the intricacies of the repairs to the Washington National Cathedral after an 5.8 earthquake in August. (Nikki Kahn - THE WASHINGTON POST)
The English Gothic cathedral in Northwest Washington remains closed as crews work to stabilize large stone pinnacles and other decorative elements shaken from their foundations during the Aug. 23 quake.

Late last week, during a tour of the cathedral, officials showed some of the damage. One gargoyle, the head of a ferocious-looking cat, was hanging by only an internal metal pipe attached to the building hundreds of feet above the ground.

Several 600-pound finials had been shaken loose from the pinnacles on which they sat and resembled chess pieces about to fall off the edge of a table. Others had been more slightly displaced. All would have to be removed for safety.

During the quake, one finial fell off and struck the cathedral roof, and another fell into the shrubs far below. Shattered stone littered gutters and roofs where ornate pieces had shaken loose and fallen. Decorative pillars were snapped in another elaborate section of the building.

Cathedral officials said they would be seeking to raise a total of $25 million — $15 million for the short-term repairs and $10 million to help pay for cathedral operations through the end of 2012.

“The short-term priorities are ... stabilizing the building, reopening the Cathedral, and continuing its operations and mission,” the official statement said. Full restoration is expected to cost “tens of millions of dollars,” the statement  said, and the cathedral “will seek contributions large and small from across the country.” Cathedral operations are not funded by the government or a national church entity.

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By Michael Ruane  |  04:16 PM ET, 10/04/2011

 
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