Raleigh’s Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral’s dome is a rare structure

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh’s Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will hold its first mass Wednesday.

Tuesday, CBS North Carolina got an inside look at how the cathedral got its highlight feature – its dome.

Hundreds of people collaborated on the project to make it happen.


For months CBS North Carolina has been watching the whole structure gradually come together and held our breath when they placed the dome on top.

That dome is an engineering feat that a local company took on.

CBS North Carolina got a glimpse at some of the work that went into it.

The newest addition to the skyline around N.C. State University took 16,000 man hours to build and weighs about as much as 54 elephants.

“To look at it now it’s awesome and it’s amazing and I like to see it when I drive past it,” said Natasha Granum, who drives through the area often.

The dome sitting atop the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral is a rare structure.

“Thirty, 40 years probably that there’s been a dome of this type constructed in the United States,” said Harry McKinney with Clancy & Theys.

McKinney led the team that designed, built and placed the dome.

He says that last part was pretty tricky.

“We had to come up with a way to lift it in a safe way. One, we didn’t want to damage the structure, two we wanted to be sure it was safe as we lifted it,” said McKinney.

They built a special rig just for lifting the massive copper and steel piece.

“Once the dome was in place we were able to drop this out of the bottom of the dome,” said McKinney.

They didn’t have much room for error.

Just a half an inch would have thrown the project off.

But thanks to 3D modeling and many discussions with contractors, everyone’s hard work will pay off Wednesday as the cathedral is dedicated during its first mass.

“After the past few years that we have been involved in this project, to see it in place, and to know that tomorrow will be the first mass is an extremely rewarding thing that we’re very proud of,” said McKinney.

The cathedral, built with materials that will last centuries, will draw people in for all kinds of reasons.

“I can take picture of, especially when the moon moves up from the horizon, if it merges with the building it will be super interesting,” said Yuming Huang, a PhD student at N.C. State.

Project leaders decided to let the copper on the dome age naturally, which means over the years it will start to turn green like the Statue of Liberty.

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