NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Local architect and historian Robert Cangelosi says it’s too early to say what the future will hold for the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
“It’s just horrifying seeing any part of history destroyed like that. It’s been there over 800 years. Whether it will be around or not in the future is not determined at this point in time,” Cangelosi said.
Cangelosi said he helped rebuild the Cabildo after it caught fire in 1988. It reopened in 1994 and now houses the Louisiana State Museum. He said the Notre Dame Cathedral is iconic in Western architectural history because it’s a classic example of the Gothic style that started in France. He’s seen it in person and was in awe of its beauty.
“It’s really incredible once you realize how big those windows are, and how high the ceilings are, and the technology they developed to do those monumental beautiful spaces at that time frame, was just phenomenal. And imagining they didn’t have cranes that we have today, or steel construction,” Cangelosi said. “I’m sure all those wonderful stained glass windows in there with the intense heat have all shattered.”
The French Consul General in New Orleans is also devastated by the news. Vincent Sciama grew up in Paris and has visited the church many times. Still, He said he’s confident the cathedral will be rebuilt.
“The first time I saw it was shock and disbelief. It’s part of our self. I was born in Paris. We have 14 million people a year visit. It’s a tragedy for the whole world,” Sciama said.
Sciama said firefighters worked Monday (April 15) to remove relics and historical artwork from inside the church. That’s something Cangelosi also worries about. From the many religious items, like chalices that he said were heavily jewel encrusted, as well as vestments that were often made with gold and silk.
“There’s always hope with enough money and enough will-power, you can put virtually anything back," Cangelosi said. "It’s a question of whether they will put it back or whether they will just keep the Western front. Is sort of a landmark, almost like some of the landmarks after World War II, just maintain the front facade. A lot of buildings after World War II were completely rebuilt, which is wonderful, but it’s hard to know until a full assessment can be done,” Cangelosi said.