Shuttered monument to be illuminated

This is an artist\'s rendering of what the Washington Monument will look like at night once the scrim is hung. (Courtesy National Park Service)

WASHINGTON – Aug. 23 will mark two years since the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the Washington area and shut down the iconic Washington Monument.

The violent shaking caused heavy stones to shift and crack, prompting the National Park Service to close the monument for repairs.

Engineers have carefully examined the damage to the obelisk, and have devised a plan to safely repair and replace damaged stones.

Metal scaffolding now surrounds the entire monument and crews are in the process of hanging a scrim, or opaque curtain, surrounding the scaffolding.

Currently, the scrim is hung on the bottom two-thirds of the monument.


A scrim encases the Washington Monument during renovations between 1999 and 2000. A similar curtain is currently going up around the monument. (Courtesy National Park Service)

“We expect to finish the scrim sometime within the next week,” says Carol Johnson, spokesperson for the National Park Service.

The slate gray fabric’s pattern mimics the monument’s stones.

“When it’s done it’ll be lit from the inside,” says Johnson.

The illuminated scrim will appear as it did during a restoration project in 1999 and 2000. The process is expected to be completed before the July 4th holiday.

“Right now the crews are doing mock-ups for the work they’ll be doing,” says Johnson.

Engineers will inject epoxy, or glue, into cracks in damaged stones.

“They have to make sure they’re not going to stain the stone during the repairs,” said Johnson.

The National Park Service estimates the Washington Monument will reopen to the public in spring 2014.

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