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An American Professor in Paris: Bentley College Professor Louis Iandoli Makes a Case for Rebuilding France's Tuileries Palace

December 18, 2006

Despite the French love for their language and culture, it has been a mystery to many that an architectural marvel such as Tuileries Palace could fall to ruin -- and its demise be glossed over in the country's history. Louis Iandoli, associate professor of Modern Languages at Bentley College, now leads the American effort to rebuild the Tuileries Palace as a focal point in the Louvre, Champs Elysées.

A scholar of 19th century France, Professor Iandoli has dedicated himself to uncovering the real history of the dismissed treasure for the past six years. In a French Review article in April 2005, the first on the topic published in North America, he shares his theory for the seemingly uncharacteristic French neglect of a historic property-- putting himself in the unexpected role of American supporter for the preservation of one of France's historical and cultural landmarks.

"You have to think of the Tuileries in the light of its metaphorical power. For 81 years, from the Revolution to the Third Republic, each time a republican government came forth, it was crushed by empire or monarchy - and each of the autocratic rulers reigned from the Tuileries Palace. On a larger scale, the Tuileries came to signify periods of oppressive rule and particular betrayal."

Last year the French Senate hosted a colloquium, "Reconstruction of the Tuileries Palace: Thousands of Jobs for a Great Monument to World Heritage." Professor Iandoli was the only American featured in the program where he argued for reconstruction and described the palace's contribution to French culture and history.

He has gone on to make his case for reconstruction in several high profile venues including the Académie du Second Empire, along with French Minister of Culture and permanent Secretary of the Academie Francaise, Maurice Druon; writer Michel Carmona, who has chronicled the Second Empire; Stephane Millet of the Académie des Beaux Arts; and Paul-Marie Couteaeu, French deputy to the European parliament.

The Tuileries Palace was built in 1564 at the direction of Catherine de Medici, then queen of France. The palace was home to the French monarchy for the next 200 years. After the French Revolution, a succession of autocratic monarchs and notorious emperors, including Napoleon, took up residence.

"The Tuileries became the center of political power for governments that oppressed working people and broke their promises," explains Iandoli, who has studied French for most of his life. "It was torched by a mob in 1871 during what was known as the Paris Commune. I had always thought that the fire destroyed Tuileries. This is what most of the French think as well."

Now, 123 years later, Iandoli is helping the movement to reconstruct Tuileries Palace. A well-known French businessman and engineer, Monsieur Alain Boumier, president of the Academy of the Second Empire, aims to raise $300 million euros to rebuild the palace, and the campaign is gaining traction. Similar projects have met with success in St. Petersburg, Dresden, and Berlin.

"The idea is to make the Tuileries into a Francophile center," Iandoli explains. "It will be built with private money but maintained by the government. I hope the campaign is successful - and it looks as though it will be. The Tuileries Palace is extremely important as an architectural and historical site, and is a great symbol of French culture."

For more information on Professor Iandoli's work, please visit this link.

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