Repair crews are dismantling the scaffolding that was used to complete a major earthquake repair project, and the before-and-after photos show the scope of the work.

For those of you just tuning in, the Cathedral suffered about $38 million in damage when a rare 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the D.C. region on Aug. 23, 2011. We’ve been working our way around the building, repairing damage as the funds are raised from people just like you.

This summer, crews finished a $5 million portion of the work to rebuild a massive pinnacle about 20 stories off the ground on the southwest corner of the south transept. As Head Stone Mason Joe Alonso describes it, during the quake an invisible hand seemed to grab the pinnacle from above and twist it clockwise, rotating its columns and pillars out of place.

Even though the pinnacle did not collapse, it was so off kilter and dangerously close to falling that crews dismantled it in 2017 and lowered all 93 pieces of stone on the ground. Alonso said the 27-foot pinnacles were an unusually complicated jigsaw puzzle because each is supported by a row of slender columns around a hollow center. Crews had to create an entirely new system of stainless steel support rods to accommodate the unusual construction design.

These photos from the uber-talented Colin Winterbottom (along with a few from Joe) show the dramatic difference in the before-and-after. All of this work is funded by our A Cathedral for the Future comprehensive campaign. We’ve got more work to do, so we’re grateful for your support!


Kevin Eckstrom

Chief Public Affairs Officer

  • architecture