The Transylvania Times -

A Cathedral And A Courthouse


April 18, 2019

It’s a truism that people often do not appreciate something until it is gone. That concept was reinforced Monday evening when Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire.

Millions of visitors from around the world who have visited the famous cathedral were saddened to see portions of it engulfed in flame and concerned that the entire structure might be consumed. The importance of Notre Dame to Parisians and the people of France was manifest on their faces as they viewed with heartache the conflagration.

“It’s the epicenter of our life,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

That is true. Notre Dame sits literally in the center of Paris, located on the Ile de la Cite between the left and right banks of the Seine.

The cathedral, on which construction began in 1163 and completed in 1345, is an architectural marvel with its gargoyles, statues, stained glass windows, flying buttresses and twin towers.

Historically, within her walls, Henry VI of England was made king of France in 1431 and Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor in 1804. To walk in Notre Dame is to trace the steps of history.

The cathedral has been the backdrop of numerous literary pieces, but none so powerful and famous as Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” whose work led to restoration efforts of the cathedral in the 1800s.

First and foremost, however, Notre Dame is a church, an active one. Mass, until this week, has been held their on a regular basis. Both congregants and visitors light votive candles, which still remained lit after the fire.

There is arguably no edifice in the world that has more significance in different realms - architectural, historical, cultural, religious, etc. – than Notre Dame.

The Transylvania County courthouse is a far cry from Notre Dame. Its architecture is not breathtaking. No historical events of great magnitude have occurred within its walls. No best-selling novels have been written about any of its inhabitants.

Still, the local courthouse, like most courthouses in the small towns in America, is important to local residents. It is located in the center of town and serves as a landmark. Many events, from Veterans and Memorial Day observances and the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the judging of Halloweenfest participants and musical performances occur on the courthouse lawn and gazebo. For many years, it has served not only as the judicial seat of the county but also the chambers for the county commissioners.

The future of the current courthouse is undecided. Commissioners have said the structure itself will remain, but the issue of its functionality as a courthouse has not been resolved. Hopefully, the group working to answer these questions will reach a good solution.

The people of France and the world gained a renewed appreciation of Notre Dame Monday when it appeared the entire cathedral could be lost. While our local courthouse pales in significance, it might benefit us every once in a while to imagine what it would be like if the courthouse were no longer there. That might spur us to pay more attention to it.


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