Notre Dame fire reminds locals of past blaze


It’s the fire seen around the world. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the oldest churches in the world. The blaze has many here in the valley heartbroken and reminiscent of another local fire.  

Much of the cathedral of Notre Dame was reduced to ash Monday as a catastrophic fire spread throughout the building.  

“Essentially in just over a number of hours, to see it all come down in a fire is devastating,” Indiana University History Professor Steven Stofferahn said. 

Indiana State University Professor Steven Stofferahn specializes in medieval history and has visited the famed landmark three times.  

His love for the cathedral hangs proudly on his wall so when watching the building burn, he says he was heartbroken.  

“This is the strange thing right now for me anybody else who teaches about this, this will be the strange event we never expected to happen,” Stofferahn said. “It’s the kind of place where you never really think it’s going to go away and now it’s gone and that’s really difficult to come to terms with.”  

Construction of Notre Dame began back in 1163 and took more than 140 years to complete.  

To date it is over 850 years old.  

The church is both a literal and figurative center of the city and Stofferahn says is the testament gothic style.  

“The western world, especially in France is coming alive in a way that we’d never seen before and Notre Dame was the focal point for all of that,” Stofferahn said.   

Recently the cathedral was undergoing renovations which many believed caused the fire hitting close to home here in the valley.  

“If you know the story of St. Ben’s then you know the that too had a terrible fire in 1930,” Stofferahn said.   

The fire at Saint Benedict Church in downtown Terre Haute destroyed the dome roof and only the walls were left standing.  

The church rose from the ashes and later rebuilt into what you see today.      

Many hope that Notre Dame will be rebuilt.     

“If I was going to guess, it’s not just my wish but I think that the world will demand to see Notre Dame rise again,” Stofferahn said.  

St. Bens was rebuilt and up and running again just one year after the fire and updates and changes take place periodically. 

When it comes to Notre Dame, it could take decades to repair, however, many historians say it will never truly be the same.  

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