(click to enlarge photos)
John McCoy, past archdiocesan spokesman and author of A Still and Quiet Conscience, a biography of Seattle Archbishop Emeritus Raymond G. Hunthausen, first alerted us to the decision of the archdiocese to create a centennial commemoration of the dome’s fall. I next called Maria Laughlin, Director of Stewardship at St. James, to ask about the possibility of repeating the hole-in-the-dome shot from the Big Snow of 1916 during the commemorative service. She asked, “How does Jean feel about heights?” After I listed some of his ascents, she agreed to introduce Jean to Brenda Bellamy who would serve as his guide. Here’s Jean’s recap of the climb.
“After reaching the rooftop, we clambered through a small exterior door leading into the ‘attic.’ To avoid interrupting the centennial service below, we crept along catwalks and ramps in near darkness. Squeezing between struts and support beams, we climbed several ladders to reach our final destination: the oculus, a twelve-foot- (I’m guessing here) wide circular opening directly above the altar of the cathedral. My guide had already hoisted a snowmaking machine up onto the opposite side of the oculus, waiting for a dramatic, if necessarily truncated, recreation of the Big Snow of 1916 during the service.
“I scooted around the upper outside edge of the oculus. While below us readers, quoting from newspaper accounts of the day, told the thrilling story of the dome’s collapse, I tried out different angles for our repeat. Particular culpability was ultimately reserved for the New York City engineers or fabricators who had assembled the dome’s flawed superstructure. It was allowed that Seattle and the Good Lord were blameless. At an appropriate moment, the lights dimmed and Brenda Bellamy switched on the snow-maker, sending a small blizzard of flakes down through the oculus and over the altar below. We then returned to the cathedral floor, where young Irish dancers were entertaining the congregants to the sound of pipes.”
Raised a Protestant, the centennial show has made me consider conversion.
Anything to add, Fra Paul? Brother Ron? Yes, and we can promise you and the readers more twin towers. We start, again, with Ron’s pull of relevant features – including on Protestant (3rd up from the bottom of the “Ron Links”) mixed in with a few more Catholics – posted here since we began doing these weekly duties. Then we will attach a few features from the distant past – again relevant ones. (And we will surely miss a few of the many First Hill features we have managed to assemble over the past thirty-four years.*)
1907 – 2007
THE DAY THE DOME FELL
From the Seattle Times for March 27, 1983