A Palace and Cathedral After an Earthquake

01
of 09

Haiti National Palace: Before the Earthquake

The Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as it appeared in 2004. The Palace was seriously damaged in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Photo © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Devastated by the earthquake of January 2010, Haiti's presidential home suffered many tragedies.

The Haiti National Palace, or Presidential Palace, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has been built and destroyed several times over the past 140 years. The original building was demolished in 1869 during a revolution. A new Palace was built but destroyed in 1912 by an explosion that also killed Haitian president Cincinnatus Leconte and several hundred soldiers. The most recent Presidential Palace, shown above, was constructed in 1918.

In many ways, Haiti's Palace resembles America's presidential home, the White House. Although Haiti's Palace was constructed a century later than the White House, both buildings were influenced by similar architectural trends.

The Presidential Palace architect George Baussan was a Haitian who had studied Beaux Arts architecture at the the Ecole d'Architecture in Paris. Baussan's design for the Palace incorporated Beaux Arts, Neoclassical, and French Renaissance Revival ideas.

Features of the Haiti National Palace:

The earthquake of January 12, 2010 devastated Haiti's National Palace.

02
of 09

Haiti National Palace: After the Earthquake

Ruins of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Ruins of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, destroyed in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Photo © Frederic Dupoux/Getty Images

The earthquake of January 12, 2010 devastated Haiti's National Palace, the presidential home in Port-au-Prince. The second floor and the central dome collapsed into the lower level. The portico with its four Ionic columns was destroyed.

03
of 09

National Palace in Haiti: Aerial View

Aerial View of Destroyed National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Aerial View of Destroyed National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake of January 12, 2010. United Nations Handout Photo by Logan Abassi/MINUSTAH via Getty Images

This aerial view from a United Nations handout shows the destruction to the roof of Haiti's presidential palace.

04
of 09

Haiti National Palace: Destroyed Dome and Portico

Ruined front portico of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Ruined front portico of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Photo © Frederic Dupoux/Getty Images

In this photo, taken one day after the earthquake struck, a Haitian flag is draped over the remains of a demolished column of the destroyed portico.

05
of 09

Port-au-Prince Cathedral Before the Earthquake

The Port-au-Prince Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The Port-au-Prince Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as it appeared in 2007. The Cathedral was destroyed in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Photo by Spyder00Boi at en.wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License

The earthquake of January 2010 damaged most of the major churches and seminaries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, including its national cathedral.

The Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption, also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Port-au-Prince, took a long time to build. Construction began in 1883, in a Victorian-era Haiti, and completed in 1914. But, because of a series of difficulties, it was not formally consecrated until 1928.

In the planning stages, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince was from Brittany, France, so the initial architect chosen in 1881 was also French—André Michel Ménard from Nantes. Ménard's design for the Roman Catholic church was notably French—a traditional Gothic cruciform floor plan was the basis for elegant European architectural details like grand round stained glass rose windows.

This Haitian sacred space, that took decades for men to plan and build, was destroyed by nature in a matter of seconds.

Sources: The Past, The Cathedral and "Rebuilding a Cathedral Destroyed" (PDF), NDAPAP [accessed January 9, 2014]

06
of 09

Port-au-Prince Cathedral After the Earthquake

Ruins of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, after the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
Ruins of the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Port-au-Prince, after the earthquake in Haiti, January 12, 2010. Photo © Frederic Dupoux/Getty Images

The Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption collapsed in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. The body of Joseph Serge Miot, archbishop of Port-au-Prince, was found in the ruins of the archdiocese.

This photo taken two days after the earthquake shows the cathedral still standing but badly damaged.

07
of 09

Aerial View of Port-au-Prince Cathedral Ruins

Aerial View of ruined Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption after 2010 earthquake
Aerial View of ruined Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption after 2010 earthquake. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson, U.S. Navy, Public Domain

At the turn of the 20th century, no one in Haiti had ever seen the modern machinery brought to this small island by Dumas & Perraud. The Belgian engineers planned to construct the Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption with materials and processes foreign to native Haitian methods. The walls, made entirely of cast concrete, would rise higher than any surrounding structure. The Roman Catholic cathedral was to be built with a European elegance and grandeur that would dominate the Port-au-Prince landscape.

As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Aerial views show the devastation of a structure that had struggled to be built and maintained. Even on the eve of the 2010 earthquake, Haiti's national cathedral was in disrepair, as admitted by Notre Dame de l'Assomption.

Source: The Past, The Cathedral, NDAPAP [accessed January 9, 2014]

08
of 09

Ruined Entrance of Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption

Man looking at ruined entrance of Haiti's national cathedral, 2010, after earthquake
Wilner Dorce, a U.S. Army soldier and native Haitian, looks at the remains of Haiti's national cathedral after he arrived on February 4, 2010 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images, © 2010 Getty Images

The architect of Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption, André Michel Ménard, designed a cathedral similar to ones seen in his native France. Described as a "grand Romanesque structure with Coptic spires," the Port-au-Prince church was larger than anything ever seen before in Haiti—"84 meters in length and 29 meters in width with the transept extending 49 meters across." Late Gothic style circular rose windows incorporated popular stained glass design.

After the 7.3 earthquake in 2010, the roof and upper walls tumbled down. The spires toppled and glass was shattered. In the following days, scavengers raped the building of anything remaining in value, including the metal of the stained glass windows.

The facade of the grand entrance remained standing—partially.

Sources: The Past and The Present, The Cathedral, NDAPAP; "Rebuilding a Cathedral Destroyed" (PDF), NDAPAP [accessed January 9, 2014]

09
of 09

Rebuilding a Cathedral Destroyed

Port-au-Prince Cathedral before Haiti earthquake and Segundo Cardona's winning redesign
Port-au-Prince Cathedral before Haiti earthquake and Segundo Cardona's winning redesign. Photo ©Varing CC BY-SA 3.0, rendering courtesy Segundo Cardona/NDAPAP from competition website

Before the earthquake of January 12, 2010, Haiti's Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Assomption displayed the grandeur of sacred architecture, as seen here on the left in this early photo. Little remained after the quake, including the toppling of the facade's grand spires.

However, the Notre Dame de L'Assomption Cathedral in Port-au-Prince (NDAPAP) will be rebuilt. Puerto Rican architect Segundo Cardona, FAIA, won a 2012 competition to redesign what will again be the national cathedral in Port-au-Prince. Shown here on the right is Cardona's design for the church's facade.

The Miami Herald called the winning design "a modern interpretation of the traditional architecture of a cathedral." The original facade will be reinforced and rebuilt, including new bell towers. But, instead of passing through and entering a sanctuary, visitors will enter into an open-air memory garden that leads to the new church. The modern sanctuary will be a circular structure built at the cross of the old cruciform floor plan.

An NDAPAP competition website was established at http://competition.ndapap.org/winners.php?projID=1028 where you could view the winning design drawings and commentary, but it was inactive by the end of 2015. Progress reports and fundraising activities used to be available from the official Notre Dame de L'Assomption Cathedral website at http://ndapap.org/, but that link doesn't work either. Their goal was to raise $40 million by mid-2015. Perhaps plans have changed.

Sources: The Past, The Cathedral, and "Rebuilding a Cathedral Destroyed" (PDF), NDAPAP; "Puerto Rican team wins design competition for Haitian Cathedral" by Anna Edgerton, Miami Herald, December 20, 2012 [accessed January 9, 2014]

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Craven, Jackie. "A Palace and Cathedral After an Earthquake." ThoughtCo, Dec. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/national-palace-after-haiti-earthquake-177724. Craven, Jackie. (2016, December 23). A Palace and Cathedral After an Earthquake. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/national-palace-after-haiti-earthquake-177724 Craven, Jackie. "A Palace and Cathedral After an Earthquake." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/national-palace-after-haiti-earthquake-177724 (accessed November 22, 2017).