Cathedral-building in Europe often spanned centuries. Cathedral-building in Washington is compressed but is still spanning much of this century. Take, for example, Washington Cathedral, the Episcopal Church's magnificent pile that stands atop Mount St. Alban on the heights above Georgetown.
Congress chartered the Cathedral in 1893, construction began in 1907, the first services were held in the downstairs Bethlehem Chapel in 1911, and President Calvin Coolidge welcomed the first event in the then-unroofed main sanctuary of the cathedral in 1928. When I moved permanently to Washington 27 years ago, the 300-foot main tower that dominates the Northwest skyline was not yet built.
Yesterday, with the cathedral 90 percent completed, construction resumed as the first stone was set for the building's southwest tower, one of a pair that will honor the patron saints of the building--SS. Peter and Paul.
"Work will continue as long as funds are in hand," said the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker, bishop of Washington and dean of the cathedral. The resumption was permitted by a $500,000 grant from the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust of Philadelphia.
Construction at the Cathedral represents, in a sense, bread cast upon economic waters: The work is providing jobs not only for local craftsmen but also for quarry workers in southern Indiana and stone finishers in both Indiana and Georgia. graphics/photo: Cathedral construction By Gary A. Cameron--TWP