Architecture expert laments loss of history at fire-ravaged Notre Dame

Paul Kurtz
April 19, 2019 - 4:30 pm
April 15, 2019; Paris, France; A fire erupted on the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral this evening.



PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With the Notre Dame Cathedral being stabilized, and rebuilding forthcoming, an expert on gothic architecture said some things will never be brought back. 

Laura Weigert, an art history and medieval studies professor at Rutgers, has visited Notre Dame many times. She said Monday's fire was very painful to watch as the layers of history, built over generations, were destroyed.  

"One thing that went up in the flames was the timber roof, which consisted of a vast amount of oak timbers, dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries," she explained.

Within the roof, Weigert said, was a trove of information about medieval engineering and workshop practices. Even the cathedral's iconic spire had its own history, she noted.

Related: Notre Dame fire highlights vulnerabilities of historic preservation in Philly

"That, too, has a lot of information about 19th-century engineering and the image that people had of the cathedral in the 19th century when it was reconstructed," she said.

Most of the art and relics were saved, but Weigert is concerned about the stained glass windows. If smoke damage is discovered, she believes it will be nearly impossible to restore the colors.

Still ahead is the huge challenge of restoring the church, but she's optimistic.

"Luckily we have a lot of information about it that the engineers can rely on to move forward,” she added.