France’s Notre Dame Cathedral is finally stable and secure enough for reconstruction efforts to commence, Paris officials said on Saturday, September 18. The iconic gothic church, which suffered a devastating fire in April of 2019, is expected to welcome visitors again in 2024.
The 2019 fire consumed the building’s latticework roof and tore down its spire, threatening to collapse the entire structure. For the past two and half years, a special task force called Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris (“Rebuild Notre-Dame”) has been cleaning the debris and reinforcing the structure amid debates over future designs for the fallen spire. The rebuilding work is expected to begin in the next few months, the task force announced in a Facebook statement on Saturday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the historic landmark by 2024, the same year that Paris was set to host the Summer Olympics. He appointed General Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former army chief of staff, to lead the restoration project.
Notre Dame Cathedral’s ravaged interior after the 2019 fire (photo by Larry Koester/Flickr)
“We’re officially saying that the cathedral is now saved, that it’s solid on its pillars, that its walls are solid,” Georgelin said in a TV interview on Saturday, as reported by the New York Times.
Some of France’s wealthiest, including Christie’s owner François-Henri Pinault and billionaire art collector Bernard Arnault, have pledged or donated over 845 million euros (~$900 million) to the restoration project. But there’s a way for the average person to contribute as well. In April, the organization Friends of Notre-Dame launched an interactive website via which the general public can donate by sponsoring the restoration of a specific artifact damaged in the fire. Examples include a collection of the church’s iconic gargoyles, a 1647 painting of the stoning of Saint Stephen by Charles Le Brun, and a 188-year-old ornate wool choir carpet. The funding goal for each object is $10,000, but you can donate as little as $1.