Cathedral Restoration Begins, 1 Year After Earthquake
High above Washington, DC, a crocket stone was hoisted into place, marking the formal start of the post-earthquake restoration of the Washington National Cathedral.
It was just a small, carved stone, but it symbolized so much more.
Cheers erupted as a newly carved crocket stone was carefully put into place in the southwest pinnacle of Washington National Cathedral's central tower—the "Gloria in Excelsis" tower—on Thursday afternoon, one year after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook the region.
A pulley hoisted the stone from the roof of the tower to near the top of the pinnacle. With all of Washington, DC, at their feet, stone masons Joe Alonso (the cathedral's head mason) and Sean Callaghan guided the stone into place, then shook hands, 676 feet above sea level (according to cathedral facts).
(A crocket is a carved stone—often depicting foliage—that projects from a pinnacle, according to New York Carver. A crocket's historic function was to deflect rainwater from the side of a building.)
The earthquake severely damaged the cathedral, twisting the pinnacles of the central tower—the highest point in the nation's capital. Elsewhere, smaller pinnacles and gargoyles were damaged as well. See photos of the damage on Georgetown Patch.
For the past year, crews have worked to stabilize the cathedral, erecting scaffolding around the pinnacles of the towers and up the south facade of the building, which serves as the nation's spiritual home. The scaffolding "hat" is visible for miles.
The positioning of the newly carved crocket stone marked the formal start of the repair process, which is anticipated to take up to a decade to complete, said Richard Weinberg, the cathedral's director of communications.
Earthquake repair costs likely will total $20 million, Wineberg added. So far, the cathedral has raised about $8 million from across the nation, including a recent grant of $5 million from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.
It's not the first time that the Lilly Endowment has come to the aid of the cathedral. Decades ago, the endowment provided funds to the cathedral when it was still under construction, according to a cathedral news statement.
The cathedral—a handmade building, Weinberg said—was not completed until 1990, 83 years after the foundation stone was laid, according to the cathedral timeline.