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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Washington Obelisk To Undergo Repairs

WASHINGTON -- It is the most recognizable structure in Washington, a 169-meter high obelisk almost devoid of decoration.

The Washington Monument is about to become even more easily distinguished: Beginning this winter, it will be surrounded by scaffolding.

Winter is when the National Park Service is scheduled to begin a three-year, $5 million repair effort that will be the most comprehensive overhaul of the monument since it opened to the public in 1888.

The department store chain, Target, is contributing $1 million and helped raise the other $4 million.

For the first three to four months of renovation, the obelisk will be closed to visitors, to allow workers to replace the elevator that travels through the shaft.

The largest problems are posed by aesthetics. Since the monument dominates Washington's skyline, the skyline will be significantly changed by the scaffolding.

"It is a central focus for everyone in the region. If you go downtown in any direction, you see it first," said Jane Freundel Levey, editor of the Magazine of the Historical Society of Washington. "It is going to be a bit of a shock,"

Park Service officials hope to complete the project by 2000.