EARTHQUAKE

Earthquake-damaged National Cathedral repairs literally going stone-by-stone

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It has been nearly half a year since the 5.8-magnitude Aug. 23 earthquake did millions of dollars worth of damage to the National Cathedral.

Cathedral stone masons are using broken pieces of the building to create new ones. (Photo: Suzanne Kennedy)

Since then, the masons in the stone workshop behind the Wisconsin Avenue landmark have been carefully recreating pieces of the century-old house of worship.

PHOTOS: Cathedral reopened in November after months of repairs

"There's a lot to do and it can be daunting when we think about it," Cathedral stone mason Sean Callahan says. "If we break it down one stone at a time, hopefully we can get there."

To recreate some of the stones that were damaged in the temblor, the stone masons are taking work that once sat atop the National Cathedrals towers and are trying to duplicate it.

Pieces that were damaged include cone-shaped pinnacles and other intricate pieces that were either compromised or fell from the spires during the quake.

PHOTOS: Masons work to rebuild National Cathedral.

As their work continues, scaffolding is up and repairs are being made to other pieces of the edifice. However, others are being crafted from scratch. It's a process that will take years and millions of dollars.

"We're still trying to put our arms around the size of the project," stone mason Joe Alonson says.

The early restoration work is expected to cost about $15 million, but the total cost to get the structure back to its pre-earthquake condition could be upwards of $25 million.

However, no damage to the structure can detract from the awe that visitors are struck by when visiting the cathedral.

"It's unbelievable that something like an earthquake can cause this problem," National Cathedral visitor Lotte Terbraak said. "It's kind of impressive."

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