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National Cathedral To Open In November After Fixes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The earthquake-damaged Washington National Cathedral announced Tuesday that it plans to reopen on Nov. 12 but says it must raise tens of millions of dollars to fully restore the building.

Three of the four spires of the gothic cathedral’s central tower were damaged during the earthquake. Intricate stonework was shaken loose, and some fell onto the building’s roof. Major cracks also formed in parts of the structure. Inside the cathedral, small pieces of mortar rained down from the 100-foot-high ceiling during the quake. Safety netting was stretched over the sanctuary as a precaution.

The reopening will mark the first time the cathedral has resumed its services since the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 23. It had hoped to reopen for 9/11 anniversary services but the collapse of a massive crane being used for repairs complicated the work.

The long delay in reopening was due to the need to stabilize damaged parts of the building, cathedral officials said in a statement.

“The short-term priorities are around stabilizing the building, reopening the cathedral and continuing its operations and mission,” the officials said. “The overall restoration of the cathedral is expected to take numerous years.”

Cathedral officials said Tuesday that they need at least $15 million for initial repairs but that fully restoring the cathedral would likely cost tens of millions of dollars.

The cathedral is also trying to raise another $10 million to fund operations through the end of 2012. The Episcopal cathedral saw severe losses during the nation’s financial crisis as its endowment plunged in value and fundraising fell off. Its budget was slashed from $27 million to $13 million and its staff was cut by more than half from 170 full-time employees to 70 last year.

“Reopening is only the first step down a long path toward restoring the cathedral to its previous state,” said the Rev. John Bryson Chane, interim dean of the cathedral and the Episcopal bishop of Washington. “We will reach the end of that path only through the support of this community and people across the nation.”

The cathedral was completed in 1990 after 83 years of work.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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