Churches, cathedrals, houses, public buildings, barns, convents, mills, schools… The architectural firm of La Prairie Nadeau Nadeau Blondin has restored many heritage buildings over the past 30 years. Of these, several churches located across the South Shore of Montreal.
The founder of Nadeau Nadeau Blondin, Jacques Nadeau, was passionate about heritage. The firm has therefore acquired, over the years, a great deal of experience in this field.
While Mr. Nadeau passed away last year, his associates, his son David and Keven Blondin, continue in this direction.
“We were lucky to have a mentor who knew a lot about this, who passed on his experience to us,” says David Nadeau.
Among the churches on which the firm has worked, we find the Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue cocathedral, in Longueuil. It required major work, which mainly consisted of restoring the interior plasterwork. It all lasted 10 years and ended in 2019.
“You had to see it: there was scaffolding on 100% of the interior spaces. It was considerable, ”says the architect.
“There was a security issue,” he adds. It was necessary to secure the plasters and restore them. There are even nets that have been installed indoors for some years. The factory has always acted in a safe manner. ”
Nadeau Nadeau Blondin has also been entrusted with the restoration of the Basilica of Saint-Anne, in Varennes. The roof has been completely redone, as has the masonry. Work has also been carried out on the windows, interior plasterwork, earthworks and the square.
“We touched on everything, both the basilica as such and the presbytery,” says the architect. We intervened everywhere in the parish enclosure. ”
After 10 years, work continues to this day on the Basilica.
The Laprairian architects also worked, from 2015 to 2019, on the Church of the Nativity. They restored the bell tower, the masonry as well as the doors and windows of the front facade, in addition to repairing the roof.
The firm’s expertise was also required for the restoration of the Church of Saint-Constant, in 2018 and 2019, and of the Mission Saint-François, in Kahnawake, a little over 10 years ago.
The factories “out of breath”
In these times of a global pandemic, David Nadeau affirms that the factories “are at the end of their rope”.
“The churches are closed, they have few sources of income, little help. They have to maintain the buildings in spite of everything, they have to heat them, ”he says.
“There is a big challenge for maintaining heritage in general,” he continues. They are affected as much, if not even more so than other groups. They have all my admiration. “
Restoring a church requires several steps. It is first of all a question of carrying out the “health record” of the building, that is to say “a general evaluation, to see its condition”, according to Mr. Nadeau.
This becomes the factory’s “game plan” and will be used to obtain subsidies, when possible.
Then, the work is organized according to the priorities, “because for the churches, it is a real challenge to raise money, to finance themselves”, he says.
For each of its interventions, the firm tries to “respect the original techniques”, whereas it is about buildings constructed there are tens and decades.
“We try as much as possible to preserve the authenticity of the elements,” continues Mr. Nadeau. Before replacing a stone, we see if it is in good condition, if we can keep it. We try to do interventions that are also reversible. We don’t want to create a prejudice for later. ”
And even after many years of work, the restoration of a church is “never really finished”, he argues.