The new restoration of the Eusebius Church raises a lot of questions. In this section, we will try to answer them as clearly as possible.
- What’s the exact condition of the Eusebius Church?
- What happened during previous restorations?
- How serious is the situation?
- What will it cost and who will pay for it?
- Is restoration still an effort worth making?
- Shouldn’t we turn it into a beautiful war memorial ?
- Brief restoration plan
What’s the exact condition of the Eusebius Church?
Restoration is required due to the bad condition of natural stone which is used for amongst others the ornaments and the ‘covering’ of the tower. Besides, the application of this natural stone, to the core of the tower, requires renovation.
The natural stone type “Ettringer Tuff”, which has largely been applied for the construction and restoration of many churches in the Netherlands, has appeared to be less sustainable than expected throughout the years.
Ettringer Tuf, more than other natural stone types, appears to be vulnerable to humidity- and temperature changes. It resulted into cracks, both in the stones and between the stones. Especially stones with a lot of details, like sculptures and ornaments are affected. It doesn’t affect flat stones. Weathering starts with relatively small ‘parts’ but affects bigger parts as well now. For example, approximately 50 meters high you will find a pinnacle of more than a meter high which was replaced during the previous restoration, now completely loose on his pedestal made of ancient tuff. This extremely heavy object is about to fall down!
It’s hard to predict how fast this natural tone will ‘wear’. However, one thing is clear: This process is unstoppable. By the way, tuff isn’t always ‘bad’: in the upper part of the tower – De Lantaarn- tuff has definitely proven itself.
This type of natural stone hasn’t been selected for reasons of costs or for other reasons: Structural problems of this material have only been discovered recently.
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What happened during previous renovations?
After the reconstruction the Eusebius Church has been restored several times. Structural problems have only been discovered recently. In 1973 a part of the vault came down. As from the mid-70s a fencing was supposed to protect visitors against falling rocks.
In 1988 – amongst others by alpinists – the condition of the church was thoroughly examined, in preparation for the restoration of 1991-1994. Pinnacles and balustrades made by Ettringer Tuff were replaced by another type of stone (Peperino Duro from Italy).
During this restoration – which costed approx. 8 million Euro – the panoramic elevator and the viewpoint (Belvedère) were constructed. Although it concerned an extensive renovation, not all problems with regard to natural stone could be discovered. Parts of the church which were successfully replaced, are now back in the danger zone again, as the material faces cracks.
In 2005 and 2007, small parts fell down again. A scaffold around the entire tower was supposed to offer protection against falling rocks and, at the same time, allowed a thorough examination of the entire building.
TNO Delft has drilled samples through all the layers of the tower and examined the condition of the natural stone by means of infrared-photography and other techniques.
Although these examinations clearly identified the problem’s nature, they couldn’t tell how to avoid this damage in the future. Efforts to inject tuff with synthetic resin for extra strength failed.
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How serious is the situation?
The condition of the church is extremely alarming. More and bigger parts will be affected. Due to lack of anchorage, ornaments might dislodge.
Ornaments which have been replaced during previous restorations, might dislodge when for example old stones, which serve as foundation, are affected.
Flying buttresses, flying buttress sculptures and ‘window frames’ were made of tuff and are, thus, vulnerable as well.
Without extensive renovation, the deterioration of this building will be irrevocably continued. An increasing number of measures will be required to protect the building and its visitors. Windows were made of tuff as well. Without restoration, for example a solid interior glazing would be required avoiding parts of the window end up in the church.
The pace of the deterioration can’t be predicted. One thing is for sure: The deterioration of the church won’t result into a ‘beautiful’ war memorial like the Gedächtniskirche in Berlin, but will result in an useless and dangerous ruin which must be secured for many years to come.
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What will it cost and who will pay for it?
The Eusebius Church can be sustainable restored at an amount of circa 34,6 million Euro. A redesignation plan can be developed to allow a healthy exploitation. These restoration costs are considerably lower than predicted (70 million Euro). Examination has shown a better technical condition of the church (the ‘nave’) than expected. A restoration of approximately 7.9 million Euro will secure the future of the church building for the next twenty years.
The tower of the Eusebius Church requires much more attention. Recurring problems with regard to the outer layer of the tower have to be tackled. A large part natural stone in the lower ‘half’ of the tower (first and second section) must be replaced. In the meantime 10.6 million Euro has been spent on restoration work, another 24 million Euro is required for remaining restoration work and redesignation.
In the meantime, the council of Arnhem has promised a structural contribution to the restoration costs of 2.4 million Euro, as from 2016. We hope fund- and sponsor raising will bring in 2 million Euro. The remaining 19.6 million Euro must, for the most part, be covered by restoration contributions of the national government, the province of Gelderland and the municipality of Arnhem.
During the restoration period the Eusebius Church remains accessible to visitors and varying events
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Is restoration still an effort worth making?
Is restoration still is an effort worth making? This question should be answered individually. From cultural-historical perspective preservation is definitely worthwhile. The Eusebius Church is one of the best examples of late-Gothic architecture in the Netherlands. Both interior and exterior have been exuberantly decorated with sculptures. Besides, many people feel emotionally connected to the church: as symbol of the city, as a reminder of the terrible war.
Since 1965 the Eusebius Church has been a – protected – National Monument. The National Monument register describes it as ‘Cruciform basilica in late-Lower Rhine-Gothic stile with great architectural and historical value’. Its inventory (such as the tombs) has a ‘great art historical value’ as well.
Yet, some people believe the church can’t be considered as ‘authentic’ or ‘historical’ anymore, since the reconstruction. Critics mainly focus on the upper part of the tower, which, indeed, has been given a new design in the fifties. At that time, it was deliberately determined to create a reference to the fault line in history, after the Battle of Arnhem.
It is true that the church isn’t 100% ‘old. The same goes for many other monuments which have been restored or even fully rebuilt throughout the centuries. It is not true that the church is not authentic. The biggest part of the nave and the tower have been restored and rebuilt according to the original, 15th century design, thanks to the accurate drawings by architect J.W. Boerbooms (1895) with regard to a restoration of the church in Gothic style. The nave still consists, with exception of roof and vaults, of original, medieval material.
A relatively innovative design has been applied for the upper part of the tower, De Lantaarn. At that time the council believed the dramatic events in the war should be reflected in the tower’s design, as a symbol of a new beginning. For this reason, a competition was held in 1954. The design by architect Theo Verlaan was selected and implemented.
There is no disputing about tastes; you either like De Lantaarn or not. However, the administration of the SEA (Foundation Eusebius Church Arnhem) undoubtedly believes the rebuilt tower is of great cultural-historical value and fits into an age-old tradition of preservation and tradition. The Eusebius Church is an important monument with an eventful history of more than five ages, which should be passed on to next generations. For this reason the administration prefers a complete, sustainable restoration.
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Shouldn’t we turn it into a beautiful war memorial?
Turning the church – or at least the tower – into a war memorial – like the Gedächtniskirche in Berlin or the cathedral of our British twin town Coventry – involves three big disadvantages. From a historical perspective it is at least ‘strange’, it is technically complex and last but not least it will cost a lot of money as well.
1. After the Second World War our predecessors could have decided to preserve the destroyed Eusebius Church as war memorial. Some people pleaded for it.
However, it was deliberately determined to rebuild the church as symbol of the reconstruction of Arnhem, which was, just like Rotterdam, severely hit. The reconstruction of the Eusebius Church took a lot of time and effort – twenty years! It would be at least strange if we would decide to, more or less, demolish the church as we ‘prefer’ a war memorial or don’t have money to preserve the rebuilt church.
2. The consequences of a discontinued renovation have seriously been examined. Would we ‘automatically’ have a kind of war memorial? The answer is: no. The church would, at an unpredictable rate – years or decades – further deteriorate. Either gradually or all of a sudden, which can’t be predicted. In that case you would be stuck with an unpredictable and dangerous construction for many years – or longer which finally could not be entered anymore, for safety reasons.
3. Nowadays, the Gedächtniskirche in Berlin is in scaffolding. Maintenance of that building costs a lot of money. Besides, it is hardly unimaginable that authorities – on behalf of the former “Monumentenzorg” (=Historic Buildings Council) – will contribute to the deterioration or demolishment of a National Monument. The city of Arnhem would be responsible for the costs.
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Brief starting points for the restoration of tower and church
– ‘Extensive restoration’ of tower (30 years)
– All outwardly projecting front parts made of Ettringer tuff are removed and replaced by Weibern tuff and fitted with anchoring, fiberglass mats in horizontal joints, a smaller height and a more variety in terms of flags. Surface treatment by means of planing or another slight treatment.
– Most parament made of Ettringer tuff can be preserved.
– In damp places, such as drips, Peperino Duro is used.
– For sculptures and pinnacle parts Muschel limestone is used. Sculpture made of Ettringer tuff is replaced by Muschel limestone with the exception of most sculptures at the 1st section north portal and a couple of sculptures at the first section south portal.
– It’s too early for an ‘extensive restoration’ of church/nave. The most important technical defects can be repaired at low costs, meaning an extensive restoration of church/nave can be extended by 20 years. An extensive, sustainable restoration (30 years) involves preventive replacement of many parts which are still good enough. Exclusively parts will be replaced or repaired which aren’t good enough anymore and won’t probably last another 20 years.
– A lot of tuff, amongst others large windows, sculptures and pinnacles must fully or partially be replaced. A couple of parts made of French limestone, like pinnacles and balustrade components must be repaired or renewed.
– Restoration focuses on the southern high clerestory. Lower parts can be reached later on, relatively simple. Clerestory activities influence the exploitation of the church building and require a lot of facilities. For this reason, they have to be either replaced or repaired now.
– All smaller windows which have to be replaced will be made of sandstone. The western window of the Anna Chapel (comparable with the western window of the Raads Chapel which is currently under construction) is replaced and will be made of Muschel limestone. The three western windows arose during the reconstruction.
- All flying buttress statues have already been removed many years ago, for safety reasons. These statues were made of Ettringer tuff and can’t be replaced. The flying buttress statues are copied in Muschel limestone. The powerful reconstruction statues are restored again, matching themes like the Arch of Noah, Apocalypse, The Apostles, The Deadly Sins, the Proclamation of the Gospel and the The Last Judgement. It is considered to design new statues matching the theme ‘Bridge to the Future’.
– A couple of parts made of French limestone, like pinnacles and balustrades must be replaced. Locally, ornaments will be ‘inserted’.
– A dark grey safety net will be placed behind the limestone balustrades of the lower roof areas to collect possible future loosening parts of the higher roof and front areas and the flying buttresses.
– Locally, slate coverage will be repaired, lead work will be renewed or tamped.
– In general, brickwork is fine. Locally, masonry work and pointing will be carried out.
– In this phase, interior is left aside, with the exception of regular maintenance. Interior will be tackled as soon as repair/renovation is required for the redesignation of the church building.
– Asbestos in basement and roof is removed.