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.  


Jonathan Chorlian

The Structures Studio

Ruedig Realty

Gary Chicoine Construction

Jordan Design, PLLC

Merrimack County Savings Bank

State House Dome

2017 Preservation Achievement Award: State of New Hampshire: Department of Administration Services, Bureau of Plant and Property Management Division of Public Works for outstanding restoration of the State House Dome

with: Turnstone Corporation, D.L. King and Associates, Lavallee /Brensinger (Architect), Foley Buhl Roberts & Associates, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, DHG Glabe & Associates, Jay Steel LLC, Longchamps Electric, RTH Mechanical Contractors, John L. Carter Sprinkler Co., MJ Murphy & Sons, Academy Roofing, Seacoast Scaffolding, Dennison Millwork, Caprioli Painting, Evergreen Architectural Arts, Priestly Lightning Protection LLC

This project started with the regular sorts of challenges as well as two more unusual ones: the crews had to complete the restoration of the dome in a single season (to avoid gilding failure as seen in the last project of its kind) and scaffolding had to be built that didn't rely on the existing roof. 

After months of evaluating of existing State House structure, the team came together with a platform design to be supported by the existing masonry within the building. The permanent platform -invisible from the street - had to support 500,000 pounds of scaffolding and equipment.

Turnstone Corporation was hired to orchestrate one of the state’s most complex and delicate engineering projects. Challenges included ensuring safety to visitors and employees while scaffolding was constructed; a ten week timeline to construct the permanent scaffolding platform; obstacles for crane operators and steel delivery trucks; and the need for absolute precision and execution on a building that is not perfectly square.

The City of Concord’s Fire Department and the Police Department assisted to make this work efficient and safe for everyone. Once the platform was constructed in November 2015, then the Dome Restoration project was back on track. D.L. King orchestrated the next step: replacing rotting pine trim on the lantern and dome with white oak, patching sheathing, repairing windows, painting the exterior, re-gilding the eagle, and applying gold leaf last done in the 1990s by a crew clipped into bosun’s chairs. The scaffolding allowed workers to be within inches of the surface of the Dome and Lantern Base. Thanks to great team approach, solid partnerships, dedicated crew, and the occasional pizza party, the dome was finished on time and on budget. The result of this multi-million dollar restoration is stunning, from the smallest details to the re-gilding of the Eagle.

It was a monumental task for a monumental building and it promises to delight generations to come.

Photos courtesy of D.L. King and Associates.

Concord’s Main Street

2017 Preservation Achievement Award: City of Concord for outstanding rehabilitation and revitalization of Concord’s Main Street

with: McFarland Johnson (Project Engineers), Carol R. Johnson Associates (Landscape Architects), Elizabeth Durfee Hengen (Preservation Consultant), L. Karno & Company

After eighteen months of construction, Concord’s Main Street re-opened in November 2016. This award applauds the project leader’s methods and goals to enhance downtown’s economic vitality, improve safety for all, promote the historic fabric and character of Concord, increase ADA access to storefronts, and create new spaces for outdoor dining and public gatherings. Using a mix of public and private dollars, a competitive federal transportation grant, and guided by historical research, the team chose materials and designs that harkened back to various eras in downtown Concord’s history.

Some of those symbolic, yet functional, designs include: the granite pavers in the center lane, which reflect both early paving material and recall the former streetcar track; re-introducing brick and granite curbing first used in 1867; adding street lights based on designs from the 1920s; planting street trees in numbers not seen since the mid-nineteenth century; and accent lighting the 1892 Memorial Arch and 1983 Iron Arch. Other improvements include kiosks with maps and histories, contemporary benches and bicycle racks, and enlivening public art.

Already, the redesigned space has attracted new residential and business investment. The thoughtfully redesigned eight blocks embraces the “complete street” model and serves as a statewide example of how a collaborative effort yields spectacular results.