The original Gothic structure was burnt in a fire on Monday, December 31, 1956. New York Engineers presented three scenarios for the rebuilding of the Cathedral. The Archives document that the walls were structurally sound. While it could have been repaired, Archdiocesean officials chose to demolish the Portland brown structure, and replace it with a modern structure.
One simply has to wonder why a profoundly beautiful edifice would be replaced by such a monstrosity. Did people ever really think that Modernism was more beautiful than traditional styles? More "relevant?" Was it simply the self-aggrandizement of being able to award such a rich commission and put one's name to a new structure? I myself recall the crassness of those times. Of women's coiffures that no longer resembled human hair. Of furniture covered with plastic slip-covers that made them excruciating to actually sit on. Of fine restaurants that served frozen food. Clothes made of synthetic fabrics, cut to obliterate the human figure, and the heavy perfumes and antiperspirants necessary when human sweat fermented in fibers that could not breathe.