St. Peter’s Church comes tumbling down after attempts to save it

  • A crew from New Hampshire Demolition knocks down the parish hall of the former St. Peter’€™s Church on North State Street on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • An excavator from New Hampshire Demolition knocks down the parish hall from the former St. Peter’s Catholic Church on North State Street as demolition of the structure has begun on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/17/2019 5:00:32 PM

Despite talks of saving it, the demolition of one of Concord’s unique-looking churches began Wednesday.

The city granted a request by Concord developer Jonathan Chorlian to demolish St. Peter’s Church at 135 N. State St., which is still owned the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. Demolition with an excavator began with the parish hall at the back of the building.

Chorlian has had a purchase and sale agreement on the property since 2017 and once the demolition is complete, he plans to buy the property and move forward with his vision to bring a “pocket community” to the plot.

That project has changed a little bit – Chorlian originally planned 10 standalone cottages and live/work space at the neighboring Gov. Frank West Rollins mansion and carriage house. Now, he’s thinking eight cottages, and the historic mansion and carriage house will become residences instead.

He expects construction to start sometime this summer.

Chorlian said he understands if people are sad to see the building go.

“A lot of significant events to this community happened there,” he said. “I’m sure its demolition is very painful for some in this community.”

Last year, members of the Heritage Commission and Demolition Review Committee debated the historic value of the building and whether it could be repurposed instead of destroyed, according to meeting minutes. The Demolition Review Committee voted 2-1 in favor of considering the building “historically or architecturally significant” and never signed off on the St. Peter’s Church permit, minutes reflect.

Member Bob Johnson said described the church as a beautiful, structurally-sound, landmark building, that showcased the city’s architectural diversity.

City ordinances state that the zoning administrator must issue a demolition permit regardless of whether the committee signed off on the permit after 49 days. That time period is meant to give the committee a chance to come up with an alternative. If no alternative is reached, the applicant can tear the building down after the time period.

Chorlian said “as a non-architect,” that he didn’t see any architectural significance to the church or its parish hall. In contrast, the Rollins Mansion has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1980s, according to national records.

The church, part of the Christ the King Parish, was deconsecrated last spring after the community turned out for one last Mass. It was built in the 1950s, according to city records, and sported a distinctive A-frame style roof.

According to Monitor archives, the Diocese has had a purchase and sales agreement with Chorlian for the property since 2017.

The church’s distinctive stained glass windows were removed last August. The remaining pews were moved to Saint John the Evangelist Church on South Main Street, the parish’s remaining church. The other church in the parish, Sacred Heart, was turned into condos by Chorlian a few years back.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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