Lilly Endowment Gives $5 Million for National Cathedral Earthquake Repairs

Washington National Cathedral has received a $5 million gift from the Lilly Endowment for repairs needed as a result of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook the national capital region a year ago, the Washington Post reports.

Damage to the soaring limestone structure from the August 2011 earthquake is estimated at $20 million. If sufficient funds were in hand, it is estimated it would take at least five years and maybe as long as a decade to complete the repairs. Of the $2.8 million previously raised, $2.4 million has been spent on stabilizing the 301-foot-tall structure and getting it ready for additional work, cathedral officials told the Post.

When the cathedral, which took eighty-three years to build and was completed in 1990, was rattled by the earthquake, huge stone finials, gargoyles, and crockets — representations of curled leaves — were sent crashing to the ground. Stone carvers will soon begin installing the first of the newly made replacements, which will be glued and pinned in place where decorative elements have been lost.

"The gift...makes an enormous amount of difference in our ability to restore this property," the Rev. Francis H. Wade, interim dean of the cathedral, told the Post. "The Lilly family has been an important part of this cathedral for a long time," he said, noting that the family helped fund the construction of the Episcopal cathedral's northwest tower decades ago. "They've been enormously helpful to us."

Michael E. Ruane. "Cathedral Gets $5M for Earthquake Repairs." Washington Post 08/23/2012.