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National Cathedral suffers `significant damage'
David Gibson, Religion News Service
August 24, 2011
2 MIN READ TIME

National Cathedral suffers `significant damage’

National Cathedral suffers `significant damage'
David Gibson, Religion News Service
August 24, 2011

The earthquake that rumbled up the East Coast from

Virginia on

Tuesday (Aug. 23) “significantly damaged” the central tower

of

Washington National Cathedral, shaking carved stone finials

from atop

the iconic church.

The quake also left cracks in the flying buttresses

that support the

cathedral, an Episcopal church that serves as a religious

focal point

for the country and a “house of prayer for all people.”

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said there were about

200

people, staff and tourists in the cathedral and adjoining

offices when

the 5.9 magnitude quake struck at 1:51 pm, but no one was

injured.

“There’s been significant damage to the central tower,”

Weinberg

said. “In addition, the finial stones have fallen off three

of the four

(corner spires) entirely.”

The ornate finials are the crowning pieces atop the central

tower,

which was completed in the 1960s and restored in the 1990s

after

repeated lightning strikes.

Weinberg said there was minor damage to other decorative

elements,

and said some may be in danger of falling. Engineers found

cracks in the

flying buttresses that support the oldest part of the

building, but the

supports on the central tower “seem to be sound.”

No damage was reported to the cathedral’s stained glass

windows.

The cathedral will remain closed while engineers assess the

damage,

Weinberg said, and he encouraged supporters to donate

through the

church’s website. “We will be working to fix the damage and

raise the

funds necessary.”

Weinberg said the cathedral had only suffered minor damage

from

lightning in the past, and nothing on the scale of Tuesday’s

quake.

Formally known as the Church of Saint Peter and Paul, the

National

Cathedral was erected under a charter passed by Congress in

1893, but it

receives no support from the federal government.

Completed in 1990, it is the sixth largest cathedral in the

world

and the second largest in the United States.