My heart broke this afternoon when I logged on to Facebook, only to see my timeline filled with articles, videos, and photos showing the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris engulfed in flames. As a Historic Preservation major, lover of history and old buildings, it was hard to watch the beloved building burn while I, or anyone, could just stand there and watch.
Several news outlets broadcasted Live Updates, where we watched the skies fill with smoke, the main spire collapse, and finally, the fire dim and cool. The two towers are safe, however, along with the spire, the roof also collapsed and the art and architecture threatened.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, a Gothic-style building, was built in 1160 and didn't come to the final form we know and love today until 1864. Since then, the cathedral has undergone cleanings and restorations to protect the structure. The building is almost 860-years-old, and I never thought that in my lifetime that I would witness such a tragedy. I would have thought that one day I would be volunteering to help restore the cathedral, not helping rebuild it completely.
It is a miracle that the facade and two towers did not collapse. The journey to rebuilding will be only slightly easier. The Holy artifacts were saved from the fire and the cross inside the church still remains intact, as does two of the three rose stained glass windows. However, there is some flooding and a gaping hole in the vaulted arches of the roof, and it is estimated that it will take some time before the cathedral can be used regularly again. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, said that "We will rebuild this cathedral together," and I have no doubt that France will receive an abundance of support in terms of financial and physical to perform this task.
I do know that to rebuild a building and keep it "original" or not a replica, 85% of the original materials has to be used. We can only hope that when the dust and rubble settles, more than 85% of the building remains.
Regardless of religion or country of origin, the Notre Dame Cathedral is an awe-inspiring architectural majesty. I hope that we will see the Notre Dame rise again one day, to be beloved for another 800 years.