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National Cathedral

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National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral
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Washington National Cathedral is officially dedicated as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington.
Washington National Cathedral
Location Wisconsin Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Coordinates

38°55′50.05″N 77°4′15.13″W / 38.9305694°N 77.0708694°W / 38.9305694; -77.0708694Coordinates: 38°55′50.05″N 77°4′15.13″W / 38.9305694°N 77.0708694°W / 38.9305694; -77.0708694

Built 1907–1990
Architect George Frederick Bodley, Philip Hubert Frohman
Architectural style Neogothic
Governing body Episcopal Church
NRHP Reference # 74002170
Added to NRHP May 3, 1974

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, operated under the more familiar name of Washington National Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States.[1][2] Of neogothic design closely modeled on English Gothic style of the late fourteenth century, it is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, the second-largest in the United States,[3] and the highest as well as the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, D.C. The cathedral is the seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, Mariann Edgar Budde. In 2009, nearly 400,000 visitors toured the structure. Average attendance at Sunday services in 2009 was 1,667, the highest of all domestic parishes in the Episcopal Church that year.[4]

The Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, under the first seven Bishops of Washington, erected the cathedral under a charter passed by the United States Congress on January 6, 1893. Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000, and ended 83 years later when the "final finial" was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Decorative work, such as carvings and statuary, is ongoing as of 2011. The Foundation is the legal entity of which all institutions on the Cathedral Close are a part; its corporate staff provides services for the institutions to help enable their missions, conducts work of the Foundation itself that is not done by the other entities, and serves as staff for the Board of Trustees. In 2011, the Cathedral was named the recipient of a $700,000 matching grant limited to preservation work as part of the Save America's Treasures program, a public-private partnership operated by the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation using federal funds that must be matched by private dollars.[5]

The cathedral stands at Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues in the northwest quadrant of Washington. It is an associate member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[6] It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, it was ranked third on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.[7]

History

Construction

In 1792, Pierre L'Enfant's "Plan of the Federal City" set aside land for a "great church for national purposes". The National Portrait Gallery now occupies that site. In 1891, a meeting was held to renew plans for a national cathedral. In 1893, the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation of the District of Columbia was granted a charter from Congress to establish the cathedral. The commanding site on Mount Saint Alban was chosen. Henry Yates Satterlee, first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, chose George Frederick Bodley, Britain's leading Anglican church architect, as the head architect. Henry Vaughan was selected supervising architect.

Construction started September 29, 1907, with a ceremonial address by President Theodore Roosevelt and the laying of the cornerstone. In 1912, Bethlehem Chapel opened for services in the unfinished cathedral, which have continued daily ever since. When construction of the cathedral resumed after a brief hiatus for World War I, both Bodley and Vaughan had died. Gen. John J. Pershing led fundraising efforts for the church after World War I. American architect Philip Hubert Frohman took over the design of the cathedral and was thenceforth designated the principal architect. Funding for the National Cathedral has come entirely from private sources. Maintenance and upkeep continue to rely entirely upon private support.

National House of Prayer

Congress has designated the Washington National Cathedral as the "National House of Prayer". During World War II, monthly services were held there "on behalf of a united people in a time of emergency". Before and since, the building has hosted other major events, both religious and secular, that have drawn the attention of the American people.

Major events

Major services

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]

Presidential prayer services were held the day after the inaugurations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937, Ronald Reagan in 1985, George H.W. Bush in 1989, George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005, and Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013.[10]

Other events include:

It was from Washington National Cathedral's Canterbury Pulpit that the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the final Sunday sermon of his life, just a few days before his assassination.[11] A memorial service for King was held at the cathedral later the same week.

2011 earthquake

The cathedral was damaged during the 2011 Virginia earthquake. Finial stones on several pinnacles broke off, and several pinnacles twisted out of alignment or collapsed entirely; some gargoyles and other carvings were damaged, and a hole was punched through the metal-clad roof by falling masonry. Cracks have also appeared in the flying buttresses surrounding the apse. Inside, initial inspections revealed less damage, with some mortar joints loose or falling out; the stone vaults have been deemed to be sound. The 5.8 earthquake, the largest the east coast of the United States had seen since 1944, was felt very strongly in Washington, D.C., and damaged several buildings along with the cathedral. Repairs are expected to cost millions and take several years to complete. The cathedral was closed from August 22, 2011 to November 7, 2011.[12] As of August 2013, the costs of on-going repairs have been pegged at $26 million.[13]

Architecture


Its final design shows a mix of influences from the various Gothic architectural styles of the Middle Ages, identifiable in its pointed arches, flying buttresses, a variety of ceiling vaulting, stained-glass windows and carved decorations in stone, and by its three similar towers, two on the west front and one surmounting the crossing.

Washington National Cathedral consists of a long, narrow rectangular mass formed by a nine-bay nave with wide side aisles and a five-bay chancel, intersected by a six bay transept. Above the crossing, rising 91 m (301 ft) above the ground, is the Gloria in Excelsis Tower; its top, at 206 m (676 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in Washington.[14] The Pilgrim Observation Gallery—which occupies a space about 3/4ths of the way up in the west-end towers—provides sweeping views of the city. In total, the cathedral is 115 m (375 ft) above sea level. Unique in North America, the central tower has two full sets of bells — a 53-bell carillon and a 10-bell peal for change ringing; the change bells are rung by members of the Washington Ringing Society.[15] The cathedral sits on a landscaped 57-acre (23-hectare) plot on Mount Saint Alban.[16] The one-story porch projecting from the south transept has a large portal with a carved tympanum. This portal is approached by the Pilgrim Steps, a long flight of steps 12 m (40 ft) wide.

Most of the building is constructed using a buff-colored Indiana limestone over a traditional masonry core. Structural, load-bearing steel is limited to the roof's trusses (traditionally built of timber); concrete is used significantly in the support structures for bells of the central tower, and the floors in the west towers.

The pulpit was carved out of stones from Canterbury Cathedral; Glastonbury Abbey provided stone for the bishop's formal seat, the cathedra. The high altar, The Jerusalem Altar, is made from stones quarried at Solomon's Quarry near Jerusalem, reputedly where the stones for Solomon's Temple were quarried. In the floor directly in front of that altar are set ten stones from the Chapel of Moses on Mount Sinai, representing the Ten Commandments as a foundation for the Jerusalem Altar.

There are many other works of art including over two hundred stained glass windows, the most familiar of which may be the Space Window, honoring man's landing on the Moon, which includes a fragment of lunar rock at its center; the rock was presented at the dedication service on July 21, 1974, the fifth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.[17] Extensive wrought iron adorns the building, much of it the work of Samuel Yellin. A substantial gate of forged iron by Albert Paley was installed on the north side of the crypt level in 2008. Intricate woodcarving, wall-sized murals and mosaics, and monumental cast bronze gates can also be found. Most of the interior decorative elements have Christian symbolism, in reference to the church's Episcopalian roots, but the cathedral is filled with memorials to persons or events of national significance: statues of Washington and Lincoln, state seals embedded in the marble floor of the narthex, state flags that hang along the nave, stained glass commemorating events like the Lewis and Clark expedition and the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima.

The cathedral was built with several intentional "flaws" in keeping with an apocryphal medieval custom that sought to illustrate that only God can be perfect.[dubious ] Artistically speaking, these flaws (which often come in the form of intentional asymmetries) draw the observer's focus to the sacred geometry as well as compensate for visual distortions, a practice that has been used since the Pyramids and the Parthenon.Template:Or Architecturally, it is thought that if the main aisle of the cathedral where it meets the cross section were not tilted slightly off its axis, a person who looked straight down the aisle could experience a slight visual distortion, rendering the building shorter than it is, much like looking down railroad tracks. The architects designed the crypt chapels in Norman, Romanesque, and Transitional styles predating the Gothic, as though the cathedral had been built as a successor to earlier churches, a common occurrence in European cathedrals.

Numerous grotesques and gargoyles adorn the exterior, most of them designed by the carvers; one of the more famous of these is a caricature of then-master carver Roger Morigi on the north side of the nave. There were also two competitions held for the public to provide designs to supplement those of the carvers. The second of these produced the famous Darth Vader Grotesque which is high on the northwest tower, sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter and carved by Patrick J. Plunkett.[18]

The west facade follows an iconographic program of the creation of the world rather than that of the Last Judgement as was traditional in medieval churches. All of the sculptural work was designed by Frederick Hart and features tympanum carvings of the creation of the sun and moon over the outer doors and the creation of man over the center. Hart also sculpted the three statues of Adam and Saints Peter and Paul. The west doors are cast bronze rather than wrought iron. The west rose window, often used as an trademark of the cathedral, was designed by Rowan leCompte and is an abstract depiction of the creation of light. LeCompte, who also designed the clerestory windows and the mosaics in the Resurrection Chapel, chose a nonrepresentational design because he feared that a figural window could to be seen adequately from the great distance to the nave.

Architects

The cathedral's master plan was designed by George Frederick Bodley, a highly regarded British Gothic Revival architect of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and was influenced by Canterbury. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. contributed a landscaping plan for the cathedral close. After Bodley died in 1907, his partner Henry Vaughan revised the original design, but work stopped during World War I and Vaughan died in 1917. When work resumed, the chapter hired New York architecture firm Frohman, Robb and Little to execute the building. Philip Hubert Frohman, who had designed his first fully functional home at the age of 14 and received his architectural degree at the age of 16, and his partners worked to perfect Bodley's vision, adding the carillon section of the central tower, enlarging the west façade, and making numerous smaller changes. Ralph Adams Cram was hired to supervise Frohman, because of his experience with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, but Cram insisted on so many major changes to the original design that Frohman convinced the Cathedral Chapter to fire him. By Frohman's death in 1972, the final plans had been completed and the building was finished accordingly.

Images of architectural details

Leadership and funding

The cathedral is both the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Washington (currently the Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde) and the primatial seat of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (currently the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori). Budde was elected by the Diocese of Washington in June 2011, to replace Bishop John Bryson Chane; upon her confirmation in November 2011 she became the ninth bishop of the diocese and the first woman to fill the role.

The current dean of the cathedral is Gary R. Hall, who took office in 2012.[20]

Former deans:

The National Cathedral Association (NCA) seeks to raise and provide funds for and promote the Washington National Cathedral. Across the United States, it has more than 14,000 members, more than 88 percent of whom live outside the Washington area, and who are divided into committees by state. Visitors to the cathedral provide another significant source of funds, through donations and group touring fees. Every year, each state has a state day at the cathedral, on which that state is recognized by name in the prayers. Over a span of about four years, each state is further recognized at a Major State Day, at which time those who live in the state are encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the cathedral and dignitaries from the state are invited to speak. American state flags were displayed in the nave until 2007; currently the display of the state flags alternates throughout the year with the display of liturgical banners hung on the pillars, reflecting the seasons of the Church year.

The budget, $27 million in 2008, was trimmed to $13 million in 2010. Staff was reduced from 170 to 70. There was an endowment of $50 million.[21]

Worship


The worship department is, like the cathedral itself, rooted in the doctrine and practice of the Episcopal Church, and based in the Book of Common Prayer. Four services (and five in the summer) are held each weekday, including the daily Eucharist. Sunday through Thursday, the Cathedral Choirs sing Evensong. The forty-minute service is attended by roughly fifty to seventy-five people (more on Sunday). Five services of the Eucharist are also held on Sunday, including the Contemporary Folk Eucharist held in the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, and a Healing Eucharist in the late evening.

The cathedral also has been a temporary home to several congregations, including a Jewish synagogue and an Eastern Orthodox community. It has also been the site for several ecumenical and/or interfaith services. In October 2005, at the cathedral, the Rev. Nancy Wilson was consecrated and installed as Moderator (Denominational Executive) of the Metropolitan Community Church, by its founding Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Troy Perry.

Each Christmas, the cathedral holds special services, which are broadcast to the world. The service of lessons and carols is distributed by Public Radio International. Christmas at Washington National Cathedral is a live television broadcast of the 9 a.m. Eucharist on Christmas Day. It is produced by Allbritton Communications and is shown on national affiliates in most cities around the United States. Some affiliates broadcast the service at noon. The Christmas service at the Cathedral was broadcast to the nation on television from 1953 until 2010 and is still webcast live from the Cathedral's homepage.

Music

The Washington National Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, founded in 1909, is one of very few cathedral choirs of men and boys in the United States with an affiliated school, in the English choir tradition. The 18–22 boys singing treble are of ages 8–14 and attend St. Albans School, the Cathedral school for boys, on singing scholarships.

In 1997, the Cathedral Choir of Men and Girls was formed by Bruce Neswick, using the same men as the choir of the men and boys. The two choirs currently share service duties and occasionally collaborate. The girl choristers attend the National Cathedral School.


Both choirs have recently recorded several CDs, including a Christmas album; a U.S. premiere recording of Ståle Kleiberg's Requiem for the Victims of Nazi Persecution; and a patriotic album, America the Beautiful.

The choirs rehearse separately every weekday morning in a graded class incorporated into their school schedule. The choristers sing Evensong five days a week (the Boys Choir on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Girls Choir on Mondays and Wednesdays). The choirs alternate Sunday worship duties, singing both morning Eucharist and afternoon Evensong when they are on call. The choirs also sing for numerous state and national events. The choirs are also featured annually on Christmas at Washington National Cathedral, broadcast nationally on Christmas Day.

The Great Organ was installed by the Ernest M. Skinner & Son Organ Company in 1938. The original instrument consisted of approximately 8,400 pipes. The instrument was enlarged by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company in 1963 and again between 1970 and 1975, during which time more than half of the original instrument was removed. The present instrument consists of 189 ranks and 10,647 pipes. It is the largest organ in the city of Washington and one of the 20 largest organs in the world.[22][23]

Michael McCarthy is the Director of Music, Christopher Betts is the Organist and Associate Director of Music, Benjamin Sraley is the Assistant Organist, and Jeremy Filsell is the Artist-in-Residence. The carillonneur is Edward M. Nassor.[24] Former organists and choirmasters include Edgar Priest, Robert George Barrow, Paul Callaway, Richard Wayne Dirksen, Douglas Major, Bruce Neswick, James Litton, Erik Wm. Suter, and Scott Dettra.

The resident symphonic chorus of Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral Choral Society.

The cathedral is unique in North America in having both a carillon and a set of change ringing bells.

The ring of ten bells (tenor 32 long cwt 0 qtr 4 lb (3,588 lb or 1,627 kg) in D) are hung in the English style for full circle ringing. All ten were cast in 1962 by Mears & Stainbank (now known as The Whitechapel Bell Foundry) of London, England.[25]

The carillon has 53 bells ranging from 17 pounds (7.7 kg) to 24,000 pounds (11,000 kg) and was manufactured by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, England in 1963. The bells are hung dead, that is rigidly fixed, and are struck on the inside by hammers activated from the keyboard.[26]

Burials

Several notable American citizens are buried in Washington National Cathedral and its columbarium:

References in popular culture

See also

  • All Hallows Guild Carousel
  • Washington National Cathedral Police

References

Bibliography

  • Marjorie Hunt, The Stone Carvers: Master Craftsmen of Washington National Cathedral (Smithsonian, 1999).
  • David Hein, Noble Powell and the Episcopal Establishment in the Twentieth Century. Foreword by Peter W. Williams. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2001; Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2007. Includes a chapter on Powell when he was dean of WNC and warden of the College of Preachers.
  • Step by Step and Stone by Stone: The History of the Washington National Cathedral (WNC, 1990).
  • A Guide to the Washington Cathedral (National Cathedral Association, 1945).
  • Peter W. Williams, Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997).
  • Cathedral Age (magazine).

External links

  • Washington National Cathedral website
  • Episcopal Diocese of Washington
  • Outdoor sculptures at the Washington National Cathedral
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