Napoleon Bonaparte, who came to power during the Revolution, proposed to restore the church in 1802. But by 1815, Notre-Dame was in such poor shape that French officials planned to demolish it, thinking it was beyond repair. The famous author Victor Hugo, however, was a fan of the cathedral wanted to help save it. He wrote the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which was published in 1831, to bolster public awareness of the cathedral’s disrepair. This prevented its destruction until 1844, when King Louis Philippe ordered the cathedral’s restoration.
In the years since The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published, the cathedral has undergone continuous repairs and additions. During World War II, it sustained minor damage from stray bullets. On its 800th anniversary in 1963, the façade was restored to its original off-white color—centuries of grime building up on the pale stones made it appear dark blue. But worsening pollution lead to the erosion of delicate stone statues and gargoyles, and grime began accumulating again more rapidly than before.
The national government proposed a massive renovation program in the late 2010s, starting with renovating the cathedral’s spire in 2018. This renovation, unfortunately, led to a fire breaking out in April 2019.