Notre Dame: before the fire

The last EWU students to see Notre Dame in its original glory share what the experience was like to watch it burn.


Priscilla Fraire

The Notre Dame Cathedral before the fire on April 15. Students from EWU visited the Cathedral and shared their experiences with The Easterner.

By Malati Powell, Reporter

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire Monday April 15, 2019. While under renovation, the cathedral was surrounded by scaffolding. According to the New York Times the fire started in the attic in a small space above the arches. These arches are dry wood that formed a combustible lattice. The source of the fire is believed to be an accident. The infamous Rose Window along with the rectangular towers and priceless Christian relics survived the fire.

A group of students from EWU went on a trip to London and Paris through the Study Abroad Program and were able to see the Cathedral before the fire. Some of them shared their reactions with The Easterner.

“My experience on this trip and seeing the cathedral was absolutely astounding,” EWU graduate student Rachel Goodner said. “Paris is everything. Paris was the city of lights for me because of the energies it produced: the people; the food; the language; the politics; the architecture; the history; the wine; the art; the gardens; the apartments; the everything; the Notre Dame.”

Graduate student TJ Carter also took the trip to London and Paris. He said the trip was amazing and that he got to see  many iconic sights, museums and neighborhoods.

“I would highly recommend going on the next one,” Carter said. “Notre Dame was certainly one of the trip’s highlights. Looking at a picture of the building cannot do it justice. Inside, the scope of the interior is both daunting and inspiring. The stone columns rise so high they seem to defy gravity. No one needs to be told to speak in whispers. It is a human instinct to whisper when in a place like Notre Dame.”

I think that’s why this tragedy is globally devastating; the Notre Dame spoke to people, and the fire somehow silenced her.”

— Rachel Goodner, graduate student

Donations from numerous contributors have been made to help rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, says that he wants the reconstruction to be complete in five years. The rector of the Notre Dame, Bishop Patrick Chauvet, says the cathedral will be closed for at least five years, possibly six.

Notre Dame was built between the 12th and 14th century.

“The loss of the wood used for the original roof, and the energy those trees held has been lost,” said Goodner. “No matter how accurately the rebuilding goes, I believe the reverent power of the interior has been lost, and will only come back with time as people heal from this great loss. Trees have a special gift of holding time and thoughts, so I am anxious to see what the new bones of the Notre Dame say.”

So what does it cost to rebuild such a historic cathedral? It has been yet to be determined by French authorities but a major European insurer is projecting a cost of $8 billion worth of renovations. As of right now, approximately $1 billion has been given in donations to help rebuild the cathedral, as predicted by French authorities. Companies such as Apple and Disney have contributed to this.

This event affected many people around the world. The cathedral means something different to each person.

“Speaking from my own experience, the Notre Dame was an impossible building, and it represented a beauty and history that spoke for France long before the Eiffel Tower was a thought,” Goodner said. “I think that’s why this tragedy is globally devastating; the Notre Dame spoke to people, and the fire somehow silenced her.”