(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
Engineers removed 2 tons of stonework from the pinnacle of the Washington National Cathedral Thursday morning.
The removed stonework had been damaged in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Washington, D.C. this past August.
Church officials explained that removing the stonework would enable the pinnacles and central tower to be more secure, until the stonework can be repaired, the Associated Press reported.
Three of the four pinnacles on the central tower of the Cathedral were severely damaged and the building suffered major cracks as well. Portions of the pinnacles fell during the earthquake and crashed into the cathedral roof.
Joseph Alonso, the cathedral’s head stone mason, said that he has been working to remove loose stones to make the cathedral safe, according to AP.
He said, “Now we’re deconstructing, and then we have to construct (the cathedral) again.”
Restoration costs for the earthquake-damaged landmark exceed tens of millions of dollars and the cathedral also suffered damage from Hurricane Irene flooding.
Cathedral officials said in a statement earlier in the month that the cathedral would continue an aggressive fundraising campaign to raise money to cover the costs.
Officials hope to raise $25 million to “offset the costs of the early restoration work and to help support its operations through the end of 2012.”
The cathedral had planned on reopening its doors for a three-day commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
However, the collapse of a massive crane stalled the opening and the cathedral is expected to now reopen on Nov. 12.
The Washington National Cathedral is officially named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The cathedral is designed in the neo-gothic tradition and is part of the Episcopal Church. It is the second largest cathedral in the United States and the sixth largest in the world. Construction for the cathedral began in 1907 and took 83 years to complete.
Congress has designated the Washington National Cathedral as the “National House of Prayer.”