2018 Preservation Achievement Award: Bienvenue Condominiums, Concord

former sacred heart church concord

Religious buildings can be difficult to re-purpose. As congregations in New Hampshire dwindle in size and number, these community landmarks are in danger of being demolished.

The wrecking ball recently claimed Dover's St. Charles Borromeo Church and Peterborough's St. Peter Church. Others in Concord and Laconia await final decisions. 

When the Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street in Concord went up for sale, it was far from guaranteed that the building would be saved. Local developer Jonathan Chorlian purchased the building and devised a plan to convert it into ten condominium units. 

Chorlian feared that otherwise, the building could have been leveled for parking. 

Accepting the award in Concord, Chorlian acknowledged that this rehabilitation was an opportunity to respect the French Canadian immigrants who built the church in the throes of the Great Depression. "When I take a step back and think about Sacred Heart now, what I often think about is the commitment and faith of the parishioners who built this magnificent building...and the extraordinary gift they gave to us and to Concord. Think about it - not one person who gave money to for this building – with its Gothic detail and spectacular variegated sandstone - is still alive today.  Yet every single day people still enjoy and are inspired by this building."

The conversion adds further life to downtown Concord (which won its own Preservation Achievement award in 2017). It also provides a case study for how other religious buildings can be reused and appreciated by future generations. 

Despite the complex architectural challenges that come with converting a large sanctuary into housing - as well as meeting the stipulations put on the building by the Catholic Church (no religious iconography was to be visible), "It was one of the great joys of my life to do this project," said Chorlian.  

Partners:

Jonathan Chorlian

The Structures Studio

Ruedig Realty

Gary Chicoine Construction

Jordan Design, PLLC

Merrimack County Savings Bank