BERLIN — Home of the city’s first Roman Catholic congregation, St. Anne Church has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979 and recently several of its ancillary buildings were similarly honored.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced the placement of an historic district comprising St. Anne Church; the former St. Regis School; the former St. Louis Hospital; and parish hall on the National Register.
The church and buildings, according to a prepared statement from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, “played a role in the community’s social history, allowing the neighborhood’s primarily French-Canadian population to preserve its culture and traditions.”
At one time, St. Anne, which was constructed from 1900-1909 and hailed as an example of Romanesque architecture, was one of Berlin’s four Catholic parishes. But in 2000 it was merged with Guardian Angel Parish, St. Joseph Parish and St. Kieran Parish to form Good Shepherd Parish.
The parish is twin-staffed with Holy Family Roman Catholic Parish in Gorham to provide ministry to Catholics in Berlin, Gorham, Milan, Dummer, Shelburne, Randolph and throughout the Androscoggin River Valley.
The Division of Historical Resources said that as was typical of Catholic parishes in the Granite State and Quebec, the then-St. Anne Parish and its amenities were founded on the idea of creating a close-knit community that attracted French Canadians.
After St. Anne Church was completed, the parish built St. Regis Academy in 1910-1911, incorporating, according to the Division of Historical Resources, “contemporary school construction techniques, such as the use of fire-resistant materials, central heating and large windows that let in light and ventilation.”
The school closed in 1973 and was converted into housing, which was the same fate of the St. Louis Hospital.
Serving all Berlin residents, the hospital had been overseen by the Sisters of Charity. The hospital’s nursing school had 345 graduates from 1927 to 1972, according to the Division of Historical Resources.
The newest part of the St. Anne Historic District is the parish hall, which was built in 1961-62 and “stands out from the other buildings in the district,” the Division of Historical Resources said, “because of its mid-century Modern details, including a full-height Kalwall window made of rectangular white lights with a few primary colors set in aluminum frames.”
Leo Provost, who was the architect for the Parish Hall, also designed Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua and St. Jean Baptiste Church in Manchester.