A Bit Random and Some Cathedral Facts

I just noticed this section of cool old fence behind the National Cathedral. It’s pretty wild because it is just one small section that has no function (there is a plain chainlink all the way around behind it).

Incidentally I had no idea it was only completed in 1990. I though it was much older than that.

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  • Little known fact – the National Cathedral contains a Darth Vader gargoyle…

  • I thought it was early 80’s. All the Star Wars and other random gargoyles date the place. Cool place to go with binoculars, make sure to see the video.

  • I like the video camera gargoyle pointed at the Russian embassy.
    The National Basilica is worth a visit as well – gorgeous!

  • I believe it took so long to complete because it was built entirely by hand, with no machinery. The Cathedral is way cooler up close. So many pop culture references.

    • Looks like there is a crane in the photo Carin posted below.

    • It also took so long because it is funded entirely on donations. There was a long lapse during the depression and world wars, etc, because not as many people could afford to donate.

  • Construction slowed or stopped for a long stretch in the 70s for lack of funds. Here’s a picture of the Cathedral with no west towers, which is how its iconic silhouette appeared the whole time I was growing up in the neighborhood. This timeline gives a sense of the fits and starts of the ~80-year construction.

  • GO BULLDOGS!!!! (and Eagles too I guess…)

  • I thought it was way older than that. I guess after living across the street for 6 years,I should finally go over and take the tour.

  • Google image search “national cathedral gargoyles”. Lots of quirky ones inside and out.

  • “Theodore Roosevelt participated in laying the foundation stone” – more proof that Teddy was a bad ass. Supposedly, he also rode his horse from the White House to CUA to see the statue of Pope Leo XIII.

  • Like a real gothic cathedral, the National Cathedral may have topped off in 1990 after 80 years of construction, but there are hundreds of bosses and other stone blanks that are waiting to be carved in place. Most of the north transept. It will take more than another hundred years to do all those carvings at the current rate.

  • that random bit of gate is part of an old driveway that served the Beauvoir house, since torn down, now the location of the Beauvoir school.

    The Images of America Cleveland Park book has some of the best photos of the Cathedral’s block development of any collection.

    highly recommended,

  • The National Cathedral is my second favorite building in DC (after Union Station). That said, for many years, my partner and I would take a tour with the different docents (those sweet ladies with the purple hats) every other week or so. Every one of those ladies might be more interested in a different element of construction (stained glass, wrought iron, stone carving, etc.), and they would dwell on that – but always give a complete tour. We have come away after all those tours with a special appreciation of that grand place.

    Did you know that they let the stone carvers do pretty much whatever they wanted? (Note the gargoyle references above). You’ve hopefully heard of the term “quiet as a church mouse”?? Well, if you look closely, you can see a small cat eyeing a few mice on another door pediment. (Close to the North door).

    And there is a room close to that where the “canon” (priests or ministers) change into their priestly garb. Well, the stonecarvers, using a twist on the term “canon”, carved various field and artillery “cannon” on each side of the door.

    I could go on and on. My advice though is to NOT just walk through the place. Take the tour (donation requested) and learn a bunch. And go back again with another docent on a different day (so that the light might be different), and enjoy again.

  • The Bishop’s Garden is nice place to in spring, for a picnic, a little frisbee, or maybe hit the plant sale at the greenhouse. They also have a festival fundraiser each year with carousel rides, bands, food, moon bounces etc. that is a blast for families.

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