What made Notre Dame’s structure so unique is also what made it so vulnerable to fire, and why it burned so quickly.
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Disney, the studio behind the 1996 animated version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” is chipping in to help rebuild the famed Paris cathedral after a fire devastated the landmark Monday.
Two days after the disaster, the entertainment giant, which also operates the EuroDisney theme park 20 miles from Paris, announced it would contribute $5 million towards the rebuilding effort, which has already collected nearly a billion dollars in pledges.
“Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history,” said Disney chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger. “The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbors in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece.”
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Other major donations include $113 million from French businessman François-Henri Pinault, the husband of actress Salma Hayek and the CEO of Kering, the luxury-goods company that owns fashion labels Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci. Bernard Arnault, the head of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), has promised $226 million.
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The University of Notre Dame announced Tuesday that it would contribute $100,000 to help rebuild its namesake. In a tweet, it also noted the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Notre Dame tolled 50 times, “representing the 50 Hail Marys of Our Lady’s rosary — at 6 p.m. today to mark the start of the rebuilding process of Notre Dame Paris.”
In a statement, the school recalled the words of its French immigrant founder, Father Edward Sorin after a fire ravaged the Indiana campus in 1879.
“Tomorrow, we will begin again and build it bigger, and when it is built, we will put a gold dome on top with a golden statue of the Mother of God so that everyone who comes this way will know to whom we owe whatever great future this place has.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has promised Notre Dame will be restored to its former glory, setting an ambitious goal to complete the work in five years.
However, his timeline was viewed as unrealistic by restoration experts, like John J. Casbarian, dean emeritus at Rice University’s School of Architecture, who oversees the school’s program in Paris.
Most of the rebuilding will focus on reconstructing the roof, originally built with wood, Casbarian said, and he expects the project to take at least 10 to 20 years.
The estimated cost to completely repair the iconic 850-year-old church will reach between $1.13 billion and $2.3 billion, according to Stephane Bern, who heads heritage renovation programs across France.
Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, Ryan W. Miller and Doyle Rice
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