St. John the Divine rededicated seven years after fire
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is rededicated Sunday. (Alana Abel/amNY)
By Rolando Pujol
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the world's largest Gothic cathedral, was rededicated Sunday, capping a seven-year, $41.5 million renovation that followed a devastating fire shortly before Christmas 2001. The six-alarm fire was another stunning blow for a city that in just three months had absorbed the attack and destruction of the World Trade Center followed soon thereafter by the deadly crash of Flight 587 in Queens.
Now, seven years on, the 601-feet-long church is completely reopened, and has been sumptuously restored. A service Sunday morning celebrated the grand revival of the seat of New York's Episcopal diocese, and was attended by thousands of people, including Sen. Charles Schumer, soon-to-be Secretary of State nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, and members of the engine and ladder companies that battled the blaze on Dec. 18, 2001.
As David Dunlap explains in the Times, the firefighters made key decisions during the blaze that avoided even further damage: "For instance, to avoid the need to ventilate the fire by breaking stained-glass windows, firefighters drew smoke through the baptistry, which adjoins the north transept," which was destroyed and is where the blaze began. That decision caused significant smoke damage in other parts of the church, which were cleaned and repaired. The loss of the stained-glass windows would have been incalculable.
Notable icons of the church were also restored. The church's Great Organ was played for the first time since the blaze, and two 17th century Italian Barberini Tapestries were restored and unveiled as well.
amNewYork's Alana Abel attended the service this morning and filed these photos. Find more on this morning's service here.
Hillary Clinton addressed the congregation.