Saving the Oldest Church in Paris

Saint Germain des Prés - the oldest church in Paris

We hope you are as intrigued about this story of Americans working to save the oldest church in Paris as we are. In Episode 81 of The Architecture Happy Hour podcast, host and architect, Laura Davis interviews David Sheppe, President of the American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés Church. This church, which is more than 1,000 years old is the sole focus of this organization’s international preservation efforts.

If you enjoyed your classes in European Architectural History, this episode is for you. If you have a passion for historic preservation, stay tuned. If you just love the romance and beauty of Paris, then stick around as we learn all about this fascinating historic church and the Americans who are helping to save it.

See show notes and photos of the Saint Germain des Prés Church.

Saint Germain des Prés - the oldest church in Paris

Night view of Saint Germain des Prés Church, Paris, France

In this Episode

  • David Sheppe’s background and how he came to be involved in these preservation efforts in Paris, France
  • A history of the Saint Germain des Prés Church
  • Americans don’t have the vast history of architecture to preserve like Europeans
  • Who are these Americans who have become passionate about preserving a church in Paris?
  • If our listeners have a building worth preserving in their community, how do they get started?
  • Under the guidance of Architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier, a master plan of 7 tranches is being implemented
  • Fundraising takes creativity – Adopt a Saint Germain Star™ Campaign

Photos of the Church’s Interior Restoration

If you are viewing these show notes inside a podcast app, please visit to see photos.

Restorer at work, Adopt a Saint Germain Star ceiling

Restorer at work, Adopt a Saint Germain Star ceiling

Before and After Capitals

Before and After Capitals

Conservators at Work

Conservators at Work

Conservators on Scaffolding

Conservators on Scaffolding

Monks Choir Before Restoration

Monks Choir Before Restoration

Monks Choir After Restoration

Monks Choir After Restoration

Restoration Underway

Restoration underway

Vierge souriante

Stone & statuary restoration still needed. From around 1250, this statue is known as the “Vierge souriante”, or “Mary, softly smiling”

Learn More

Adopt a Saint Germain Star™ Fundraising Campaign

Follow American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés on Facebook

David Sheppe, President, American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés Inc.,

Interested in learning more about the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood where the church is located? Check out this book by John Baxter. (Click on book cover for Amazon affiliate link. If you make a purchase, we may earn a small commission, but there is no additional cost to you.)

Links to The Architecture Happy Hour episodes mentioned on this podcast:

76: Saving the Alexander Mansion

62: Never Too Old to Become an Architect

About David Sheppe

David Sheppe has enjoyed a long career in international banking and now works as a financial and risk management consultant. It was while living in Paris in the 1980s that he first took an interest in the church of Saint Germain des Prés, and he has been a frequent visitor ever since. From 2013 to 2016, he was once again a Paris resident, and it was then that he became acquainted with the work of the “Fonds de Dotation,” the Paris-based fundraising arm for renovating the church.

Following his return to the US in 2016, David did volunteer work for the US-based American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés, before joining its board in 2017. He is now leading the charge on the current Adopt A Saint Germain Star™ Campaign in the United States. David is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell University. He resides in southwest Connecticut.

About Pierre-Antoine Gatier, Architect

Pierre-Antoine Gatier is the architect who is supervising the preservation efforts at Saint Germain des Prés. A student of École du Louvre in 1981 and a graduate of museology in 1983, Gatier became architect DPLG in 1984 in Paris. In 1990, he became Chief Architect of Historical Monuments (Domaine de Chantilly, Theatre Lyrique de l’Opera Comique, Le Corbusier Foundation, Villa Medici and French buildings in Rome). In 2003, he was appointed Inspector General of Historical Monuments in the Rhône-Alpes, Lorraine and DOM regions.

Gatier has conducted several expert missions abroad in the United States, Congo, Haiti, Mali and Morocco. He also carried out a special mission in New Orleans as part of the assistance provided by the Ministry of Culture and Communication after Hurricane Katrina.

Gatier is a member of the Academy of Architecture, former president of Icomos France, laureate of the “Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship” (American Architectural Foundation Scholarship and the Friends of VMF, Washington, United States, 1991) and Honorary Fellow of AIA.

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VP, Architect, hpd architecture + interiors
Laura Davis is a Texas and Colorado registered architect and interior designer, and a co-founder of hpd architecture + interiors. With a diverse portfolio spanning residential, commercial, retail, and historical projects, Laura’s heart lies with her specialty in Historic Preservation. She loves to revitalize older properties, cherishing their character and the stories they hold. Her true passion lies in understanding her clients deeply, uncovering their desires and motivations, and crafting designs that turn houses into cherished homes.

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Laura Davis is a registered architect and interior designer in the state of Texas and Colorado, and a founding member of hpd architecture + interiors. Laura's extensive experience includes residential as well as commercial and retail projects.  She also has a particular interest in restoration, holding a certificate in Historic Preservation. She is energized by the character of older homes and the stories of those who have lived there. Responding to the needs of the current owner, while also honoring the personality of the original home is a delicate process to be enjoyed.

Laura Davis

Vice President, Architect, Interior Designer Principal , hpd architecture + interiors