April 16, 2019


'It was bound to happen': Notre-Dame cathedral was beloved but long neglected (The Local, 16 April 2019)

[T]he reality is that Notre-Dame had been neglected for too long and one French heritage expert believed the disaster was on the cards.

"What happened was bound to happen," said Jean-Michel Leniaud, president of the scientific council at the national Heritage Institute. "The lack of real upkeep and daily attention to such a major building is the cause of this catastrophe.

"This is not about looking for people to blame. The responsibility is collective because this is the most loved monument in the country," said Leniaud

Middle Ages specialist Claude Gauvard, also the author of a book on the Gothic masterpiece that dates from the mid-12th century, told AFP there was no overstating the site's cultural resonance.

But she added it had not always been treated with due reverence.

Gauvard also is of the opinion that not enough has been spent on maintenance. 

"The ongoing works finally got started -- and it was high time, and perhaps even a little late.

"I went up to the foot of the spire (before the renovations began) and some of the brickwork was disjointed, held in place by a grate to prevent it falling..." she said.

Centuries of time as well as acid rain and pollution and taken their toll on the cathedral's exterior.

In 2017 The Local reported how Gargoyles that had lost their heads were fixed up with unsightly plastic tubes for water drainage. Elsewhere, an entire stone balustrade was missing, replaced by plywood; a pinnacle has crumbled and a stained-glass window's frame was in a sorry state of repair.

Decorative details that had fallen away from flying buttresses were set aside for safekeeping.

The central lead-clad wooden spire, which had risen 93 metres (300 feet) above the cathedral roof and weighed 250 tonnes, was also in need of costly restoration. It now needs to be rebuilt completely after dramatically collapsing during the fire.

The lead, meant to protect the spire from the elements, had been wearing thin.

Paris sounded the alarm about the need to restore Notre-Dame several years ago, seeking donations notably from US patrons to help pay for the work, pledging to match up to four million euros donated to a heritage fund.

Through the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris group, Paris's Roman Catholic diocese is reaching out to Americans "who have a culture of giving and are very attached to this monument", Andre Finot, a spokesman for the cathedral, said in 2017.

Posted by at April 16, 2019 12:00 AM