Immense, powerful, sublime, tranquil… these are the words which propagate within each person as they step into the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. The enormity of the space, along with the play of light within the expanse, leaves one in deep serenity for just a split second. In the next moment, the viewer wants nothing but to explore this superb space.

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Gazing upwards, one notices the highly visible netting covering the entire ceiling which was put in place after the 5.8 earthquake struck in 2011. On that day, cracks raced across the ceiling and masonry fell as the quake hit. The Cathedral was closed for some time, and the netting went up. And now the net sits high atop the congregation reminding everyone how powerful nature can be, while the enormity and beauty of the space reminds everyone how powerful one’s spiritual beliefs can be. 

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On the onset, the estimate for the repair work was in the millions.  Much of that money came from donations from people across the country, as well as other religious institutions in the city, such as the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington which gave $25,000.
On May 13th, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation bestowed the Washington National Cathedral with the full grant request of $100,000 which will go towards repairing the vaulted ceiling of the two main bays.  The two entities donated the money via a program called Partners in Preservation which awards grants to historic locations throughout the country.  According to the Partners in Preservation website, they hope “…to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America’s historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.”  So far, over $10 million has been awarded to historic projects in eight different cities, with the most recent being Washington, D.C.  In granting money, the partners were not the only ones to have a say where the money went.  The Washington National Cathedral was awarded this monetary gift by earning the most points in a competition powered by social media where voting took place via the Partners in Preservation website, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram.
All-in-all, $1,000,000 was given to the Washington D.C. Metro area to help preserve the historic buildings. While $100,000 was given to the Washington National Cathedral, the rest of the money was distributed to the other historic places in the running.
Twelve historic places received grants ranging from $35,000 to $100,000:

  • All Souls Church Unitarian
  • Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
  • Colvin Run Mill
  • Congressional Cemetery
  • Dumbarton Oaks Park
  • The GALA Hispanic Theatre at The Tivoli
  • Greenbelt Theatre
  • LAMB at Military Road School
  • Meridian Hill Park
  • Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Mount Vernon
  • Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

The remaining eleven other historic places were awarded $5,000 grants:

  • Abner Cloud House at the C&O Canal
  • Arlington House
  • The Athenaeum
  • Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office
  • Darby Store
  • George Mason Memorial
  • Heyden Obersvatory
  • The Kennel at Aspin Hill Memorial Park
  • Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Read about last year’s Partners in Preservation winners in New York City.