Washington National Cathedral

cathedral located in Washington, D.C.
The Washington National Cathedral at night
President Ronald Reagan's funeral at the cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Congress officially made it the non-denominational National House of Prayer. Located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, it is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and second largest in the United States.[1] It was built between 1907 and 1990.[2]

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, the central tower on the Cathedral was damaged by an earthquake. A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck northern Virginia, about 135 km (84 mi) from Washington D.C.[3] The earthquake knocked off some of the cross-shaped finial stones. Finials are the decorative top of the pinnacles or towers. One pinnacle is leaning to the side. The inside of the cathedral did not receive any serious damage from the earthquake.[4]

Officials have stated that it will cost millions of dollars to repair the damage. The cost of repairs will not be covered by insurance. There are many cracks in the limestone exterior.[5] There was concern that the landfall of hurricane Irene would cause more damage.[6] The hurricane did not cause any additional damage to the cathedral.[7]

State funerals for three American Presidents have been held at the cathedral:[8]

Memorial services were also held for presidents Warren G. Harding, William Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S Truman, and Richard M. Nixon.[8]


  1. WNC: Facts and Figures
  2. "Cathedral Timeline". Washington National Cathedral. http://www.nationalcathedral.org/about/timeline.shtml. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  3. "Magnitude 5.8 - VIRGINIA". usgs.gov. U.S. Geological Survey. 2011-08-23. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Quakes/se082311a.php. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  4. Barkley, Tom (2011-08-23). "Washington National Cathedral Damaged by Quake". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903327904576526922053659268.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  5. "Washington National Cathedral damaged in earthquake". The Washington Post. 2011-08-24. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/washington-national-cathedral-damaged-in-earthquake/2011/08/24/gIQAb8iecJ_gallery.html#photo=1. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  6. Kelle, Jared (2011-08-24). "At National Cathedral, Concerns About Damage From Hurricane Irene". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/08/at-national-cathedral-concerns-about-damage-from-hurricane-irene/244039/. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  7. "Damaged by earthquake, National Cathedral has fallen trees, no major damage from hurricane". The Washington Post. Associated Press (The Washington Post Company). 2011-08-28. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/damaged-by-earthquake-national-cathedral-has-fallen-trees-no-major-damage-from-hurricane/2011/08/28/gIQATleNlJ_story.html. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Services Following Deaths of American Presidents". Washington National Cathedral. http://www.nationalcathedral.org/about/presidentialFunerals.shtml.
  9. State Funeral for President Ronald W. Reagan June 11, 2004 Nationalcathedral.org