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Newport church buys shuttered Claremont church building

Sunday News Correspondent

August 12. 2017 7:58PM
Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)

CLAREMONT - The Claremont City Council has accepted an offer from the Lake Sunapee Baptist Church in Newport to buy a city-owned shuttered church on Broad Street.

Though assessed by the city at $240,000, city councilors accepted the $700 bid from the Newport church at a council meeting Wednesday night.

Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett said Friday the religious organization plans to replicate a program for at-risk youth it already runs in Newport.

"The benefit really isn't in the sale purchase price," Lovett said. "The benefit is what they are going to be doing to the building to bring it back and the services they are going to be offering the city."

In April, the city announced it was seeking developers with a vision for the former First Universalist Church.

Located downtown between the city fire station and library on Broad Street, the former church was built in 1832 in the late Federal style. The city has owned the building since 1989.

The city owned it for a period of time before that, but in 1972 granted the First Universalist Church use of the structure. When the city took the building back in the late 1980s it was used for storage and children's programs. This use ended, however, because the building isn't up to code and is in need of renovation.

The city has spent a nominal amount of money over the years to keep the church from falling into disrepair, Lovett said.

The church building is located in the historic district, which would require any exterior renovation of the building - such as doors, windows, signs or façade - to receive approval from the Historic District Commission.

"The building has significant historical value," Lovett said.

The bell, as well as the weathervane, will remain property of the city, but will remain part of the church building for now, she said, but the city has the right to remove both for display at a later time if it so chooses.

Lake Sunapee Baptist Church has a member who can renovate stained glass windows, Lovett said, adding the church leaders were able to convey to the council an understanding of the historical value of the church building to the community and want to restore it as best they can.

"Apparently they are going to be using the resources and talent they have within their own congregation to help renovate the church," she said. "Is it a good deal for the city? Yes it is because they are willing to bring it back to the way it is supposed to look."

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