|a Chronicle staff report|
The tour will be conducted by Jack Waite, AIA, restoration team leader and an authority on the work of Basilica architect Benjamin Latrobe, who also designed the Capitol in Washington, DC. The building is considered one of the world's finest examples of neo-classical architecture. Its construction began in 1806 with a cornerstone blessing by Bishop John Carroll and was completed in 1821.
The tour will begin in front of the Basilica. Visitors will proceed through the interior with comment on the original plan for the building's windows and lighting, then climb to the rim of the rotunda to view the craftsmanship of Latrobe's skylight system, which is now being re-installed. The tour will conclude in the undercroft's crypt, where the structure's elaborate brick foundation system can be seen.
The Basilica whose complete name is Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is called "The Mother Church of Roman Catholicism in the United States." It is Co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The hardhat tour is limited to the first 50 persons requesting admission; call 410-539-7772. The tour is free for Foundation members ($35 per year). Guests will be charged $20.