An iconic Moncton cathedral is getting a new lease on life with a multi-million dollar renovation, not long after it narrowly avoided the wrecking ball.

For the past 76 years, Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral has been a highlight of the Moncton skyline. However, with the list of much-needed repairs growing longer, the church was facing demolition in 2014.

“It would have been a cultural crime to demolish this monument,” says Marie-Linda Lord, president of the fundraising campaign.

A community group has raised most of the $7 million needed to repair the landmark, but opted to begin five years’ worth of renovations now, before the final amount of money is raised.

“We have concerns about the foundation inside and we also know that the roof is leaking when it rains heavily,” says Lord.

The church’s organ spent months under a plastic covering to prevent further damage from the leaky roof and the exterior stone will also see some upgrades.

The church was built over a 10-month period in 1940, to serve as a symbol of the Acadian community. Now celebrating its 76th anniversary, people close to the church say that hasn’t changed.

“It was meant to be a symbol of the identity of the Acadians and it has not lost that,” says Robert Pichette, a former journalist who wrote a book chronicling the cathedral’s history.

He says records of its first sermon have stuck with him over the years.

“No longer do Acadians have to hide in the woods to praise their Lord, nor do they gather on deserted beaches,” recalls Pichette of the sermon. “They now have a proper house of worship.”

He says the building served as more than a church, hosting a small museum, library and multiple education lectures over the years. The additional rooms will not host five Acadian organizations.

“They’ll be able to pay a rent to the cathedral, which will help the parish to pay for the heat and electricity, and all those kinds of things that you have to pay every year,” says Lord.

The group still needs to raise another $800,000, but it remains optimistic it will find the additional funds.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Cami Kepke