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National Cathedral: Spires Removed For Repair

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Engineers attach part of a pinnacle from the National Cathedral to be lowered by a crane for repairs. Three of the four pinnacles on this tower were damaged in the Aug. 23 earthquake that hit the D.C. region.
Armando Trull
  Engineers attach part of a pinnacle from the National Cathedral to be lowered by a crane for repairs. Three of the four pinnacles on this tower were damaged in the Aug. 23 earthquake that hit the D.C. region.

A little rain has not dampened efforts to repair the National Cathedral, something that's been a heavy duty endeavor. Outside the cathedral today, a 500-foot crane lowers a massive stone pinnacle from the very top of spire to the ground.

Standing nearby, stonemason Joe Alonso watches its progress. The 2-ton pinnacle shifted considerably during the Aug. 23 earthquake, and its removal is necessary to repair it, he says. "I didn’t want to be up there breaking it, drilling it, jack-hammering it, whatever it is we were going to do to it to take them apart, because there's eight other stones beneath that that are loose," he says.

Alonso says those stones weigh about 800 pounds apiece and will also be craned down. The removal of stones from two of the pinnacles is expected to be complete by tomorrow. "And then the rebuilding can begin," he adds.

That rebuilding will cost at least $15 million and take a decade. Alonso says that’s because artisans have to repair the more intricate stonework.  The Gothic-style cathedral is expected to reopen sometime in November.

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