RESTORATION: The project took 11 years and cost $2.5 million. By The Associated Press A massive cupola was restored to the earthquake-damaged downtown church building that once served as the cathedral of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The return of the 3,500-pound dome and steeple to the former St. Vibiana Cathedral on Wednesday capped an 11-year campaign to save the historic landmark. “I was expecting lightning bolts to strike,” joked developer Tom Gilmore, who spent $2.5 million on the cupola’s restoration. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the structure was targeted for demolition by the archdiocese, which decided that it would cost too much to repair and hoped to build a larger cathedral in its place. But preservationists prevailed in a state appeals court ruling that kept the archdiocese from quickly demolishing the now 131-year-old building. Church officials sought a new location and eventually agreed to a land swap that allowed them to build the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels less than a mile away. Gilmore bought St. Vibiana – now simply called Vibiana’s – in 1999 for $4.6 million and renovated it for use as a venue for special events and concerts. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!