WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

As Washington Monument Reopens, Repairs On National Cathedral Lag

Like the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral was damaged by the August 2011 earthquake.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/franciscodaum/11617389763/
Like the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral was damaged by the August 2011 earthquake.

That the Washington Monument reopened to the public today after three years of repairs was a cause of celebration for many residents and visitors, but for Jim Shepherd, the moment is bittersweet.

"I'd like to think we're the sisterhood of damaged earthquake landmarks, but the Washington Monument seems to be ahead of us in terms of what they're able to do," says Shepherd, the director of preservation and facilities at the Washington National Cathedral.

Shepherd should know. He's the man in charge of restoring the cathedral, which like the monument was damaged by the August 2011 earthquake. But unlike with the Washington Monument, fundraising for repairs has lagged — $10 million of the $26 million needed has been raised — leaving the cathedral in the midst of restoration projects that could take close to a decade to complete.

"Unlike the Washington Monument that has least half supported by the federal government and the other half by a single private donation, ours all comes from the generosity of private individuals and private foundations," says Shepherd, referencing the $7.5 million given by philanthropist David Rubenstein for repairs to the monument. The work on the monument cost $15 million.

For the cathedral, the $10 million already raised has been put to shoring up the 100-year-old building in the wake of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, repairing and cleaning the interior ceiling and restoring of flying buttresses on the eastern end of the building. That phase of work started five weeks ago and is expected to be completed within 10 to 12 months.

The second and more expensive phase — which includes repairs to the cathedral's central tower — is dependent on when and how the remaining $16 million is raised.

"All of the other repairs, including removing that scaffolding from the central tower that's so visible, we're planning to implement in Phase 2, and Phase 2 we can't implement until we have the money in our pocket," he says. "If we don't get all the funding that we need... then we'll have to do the repairs as the money comes in and that could stretch the project out to seven or eight years in the worst case scenario."

Despite the fundraising challenges, Shepherd tries to stay upbeat.

"It is a little more challenging to keep people interested in supporting the building, but we are optimistic that as we forge forward we will eventually reach our fundraising milestone," he says.

NPR

Lisa Lucas Takes The Reins At The National Book Foundation

Lucas is the third executive director in the history of the foundation, which runs the National Book Awards. Her priority? Inclusivity: "Everyone is either a reader or a potential reader," she says.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
WAMU 88.5

The Latest on the Military, Political and Humanitarian Crises in Syria

Russia continues airstrikes in Syria. Secretary Kerry meets with world leaders in an attempt to resolve the country’s five-year civil war. A panel joins Diane to discuss the latest on the military, political and humanitarian crises facing Syria.

NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.