Washington Monument Repairs and Renovations

Scaffolding encases the Washington Monument as the landmark undergoes structural repairs caused by an earthquake. (David Coleman / havecamerawilltravel.com)

UPDATE: As of May 2014, the scaffolding is down and the Washington Monument is opening up again to public tours. You can reserve timed entry tickets at Recreation.gov.

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit just south of Washington on August 23, 2011, damaged the Washington Monument along with some other area landmarks like Union Station.

In late-September 2012, the National Park Service awarded a $9.6 million dollar contract to repair the monument to California-based Tutor Petrini Management Services Group. There is, as yet, no publicly announced schedule for completing the repairs and reopening the monument, but in July 2012 the NPS said that the monument could remain closed into 2014. More recently, they have declined to give any date.[foot]Michael E. Ruane, “Earthquake-Damaged Washington Monument May be Closed Into 2014,” Washington Post, 9 July 2012.; Candace Wheeler, “Contractor Chosen for Washington Monument,” Washington Post, 26 September 2012.[/foot]

A damage assessment completed in December 2011 found that the damage is extensive, with cracks and chipped stones throughout, and concluded that the monument remains structurally sound, but that the cracks in the marble make it particularly vulnerable to water leakage from rainstorms. The lightning protection system will also need replacing, and steel plate reinforcement plates installed. In short, getting the Washington Monument back to tip-top shape will be a very big job indeed. The monument will be shrouded in scaffolding as repairs are done, part of the granite plaza at its base along with some flagpoles and benches might be removed temporarily, and a new access road on the south side constructed to facilitate vehicles involved in the work.[foot]Michael E. Ruane, “Earthquake-Damaged Washington Monument May be Closed Into 2014,” Washington Post, 9 July 2012.[/foot]

The earthquake’s tremors cracked some of the monument’s stones and loosened mortar and joint filler, creating holes in the exterior. You can make out a little of the exterior damage in this shot taken in December 2011.

The scaffolding started going up in February 2013. The photo at the top of this page shows what it looks like covered in scaffolding in the summer of 2013.

In this shot of the not-yet-blooming cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin taken at the end of March 2013, you can see the scaffolding is about half-way up the monument (and still going).

In this shot of the not-yet-blooming cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin taken at the end of March 2013, you can see the scaffolding is about half-way up the monument (and still going).

Another shot from early April 2013.

Another shot from early April 2013.

Top of the Washington Monument

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  1. Austin S. says


    How is the scaffolding coming? I was told it was coming down and should be down by late March. Is this accurate?

    • says

      It is about 2/3 down and has been stopped at about that level for a while during the height of winter. I don’t know the precise finish date is, but late March sounds plausible.

  2. cheryl mumford says

    Please advise if the Washington Monument is covered on the outside by either scaffolding or plastic. Keen photographer.
    Many thanks

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