EMILY PERKINS/THE HOYA
EMILY PERKINS/THE HOYA

One year after a magnitude-5.8 earthquake shook the District last August, causing substantial damage to the Washington National Cathedral, the church has received a $5 million donation for repairs from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, a private philanthropic foundation that supports community development, religion and education.

The donation covers a quarter of the estimated $20 million in damage to the cathedral, a sum that officials say will facilitate the first substantial repair to the cathedral’s limestone edifice.

“The Lilly Endowment’s generous gift of $5 million … really is transformative in our ability to officially begin the restoration phase, which started with laying the first repaired stone in the tower a couple of weeks ago,” Richard Weinberg, director of communications for the cathedral, said.

Though millions of dollars have already been spent on repairs caused by the earthquake, most of the funds have been funneled toward strengthening the building’s structure.

“Over the first year, we were doing stabilization work. We were removing damaged stonework from the building and were able to safely reopen after being closed for 10 weeks after the earthquake,” Weinberg said. “Future work is really dependent on funding.”

Weinberg added that the prioritization of future repairs will be determined by a volunteer task force, which is due to produce a report in October.

“We have a host of experts that are volunteering their time in the fields of construction, engineering [and] architecture. … As we go about restoring the cathedral, we have to consider how to best steward the funds,” Weinberg said.

The Washington Monument, the other main D.C. landmark to be damaged by the earthquake, has also benefited from major philanthropic gifts. According to the National Park Service, which runs the monument’s website, philanthropist David Rubenstein made a $7.5 million donation in mid-January. Combined with funds from Congress, Rubenstein’s grant is sufficient to complete the full repairs to the monument.

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