Notre Dame Cathedral's architectural style spreads as far as Michiana

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture, being built at the very end of the Early Gothic period, before a transition into High Gothic architecture.

The techniques that went into that cathedral weren't gone with the times, but the structure's influence has even spread to buildings you can see as far as South Bend.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris might sound just like a certain university you may recognize. While there's no connection between the University of Notre Dame and Notre Dame Cathedral outside of the spelling, there are a lot of things the university borrows from one of the largest Gothic churches.

"Many of the buildings on the Notre Dame campus have been modeled after Gothic architecture," said Dr. John Stamper, the University of Notre Dame's associate dean of the School of Architecture. "Sacred Heart Basilica, of course, and the golden dome. Many of the dormitories are in the style that we call Collegiate Gothic, which is a kind of Americanized version of the Gothic style that comes ultimately from France."

The way the cathedral was built has had such an impact that more than 800 years later, buildings are still being modeled after its style. But now after years of influencing other buildings, it has to be rebuilt itself.

"There probably will be a debate on some wanting to modernize the construction," Stamper said. "Others will want to recreate exactly what had been there before."

That's not to say everything would be completely revamped. There are aspects of the cathedral that are easier to recreate than others.

"The key will be if they can reconstruct the vaults inside," Stamper said. "They can certainly reconstruct the spire that collapsed, but I think think it will be the vaults that will be the hardest thing to repair. Fortunately, the great flying buttresses seem to have all survived. None of the walls themselves fell in."

While it will eventually return to its former magnificence, it may be some time before we'll see Notre Dame Cathedral as it once was or as it currently is.

"Likely the knave, they will have to build up scaffolding inside the knave in order to reconstruct the stone vaults," Stamper said. "So, we don't know if any of it will be accessible over the next few years."

The restoration is going to cost millions upon millions of dollars. The University of Notre Dame is pitching in $100,000 toward the project.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the bells of the Basilica rang 50 times, symbolizing 50 Hail Marys.