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View of stained glass with the Georgetown University seal

New Crosses Adorn Georgetown's Historic Healy Hall

June 5, 2014 – Five new crosses for Georgetown – designed to replace the originals damaged in the 2011 earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument – were blessed yesterday and returned to Healy Hall.

The original crosses – quarried from Euclid Sandstone near Cleveland, Ohio,  – remained on top of the university’s Healy Hall for more than 100 years before the Virginia Earthquake that struck the East Coast in August of that year.

“The crosses tie us to Georgetown's storied history as told by its architecture,” said Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., vice president of mission and ministry, who blessed the new crosses Wednesday night. “The crosses also remind us of Georgetown's religious foundation and our centuries-old commitment to learning, service, and faith.”

Close Visual Match

Rev. Kevin O'Brien blesses the Healy crosses 100 feet in the air. The cross O'Brien blessed on Wednesday is mounted 100 feet off the ground, stands 4 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 500 pounds. The five crosses range in weight from 300 to 600 pounds and in height from 3 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 11 inches.

The crosses were removed for safety in advance of 2012 Hurricane Sandy, and the university took time and care to ensure that the new crosses would be as similar to the originals as possible.

The new Healy crosses are made from Buff Berea Sandstone that came from Cleveland Quarries in Vermillion, Ohio, less than 60 miles from where the original Healy crosses had been quarried.

“The new stone crosses that will adorn the top of Healy Hall represent a close visual match to the original crosses that stood for over 100 years,” said Gina Bleck, Georgetown assistant vice president of design and construction. “The new crosses are made from a more durable stone and should be able to better withstand extreme weather conditions.”

Healy Hall, built in the late 1870s, is a National Historic Landmark.

Nurturing Values

The original Healy Crosses will be used as centerpieces for reflective and meditative sites, including at the university’s Calcagnini Contemplative Center in Bluemont, Virginia, that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Three crosses will be placed on the west side of Dahlgren Chapel as part of another reflective area, and the remaining cross will be placed in a future reflective area on campus. Among the donors funding the new locations are Beth Daley Ullem (SFS ’95) and her family.

“The meditative reflective areas built around these historic crosses is in keeping with the nurturing of university’s Catholic and Jesuit values,” said Mary Prahinski, senior director of development, mission and ministry.