MANCHESTER — Officials with the Diocese of Manchester and Mayor Joyce Craig had what both sides term a “productive and enlightening” talk Tuesday regarding the future of the Chandler House, a 19th-century mansion scheduled for demolition.
The Diocese filed a permit application for the demolition with the city earlier this month. Mayor Craig added her name to efforts to save the Chandler House by sending a letter last week to Bishop Peter Libasci, asking him to grant a last-minute reprieve for the home that has towered over the northwest corner of Beech and Walnut streets since it was built in 1878.
Both sides met Tuesday to discuss the future of the historic structure, and issued a joint statement following the meeting.
“Today, Bishop Peter Libasci, Mayor Joyce Craig, and other representatives of the City and the Diocese of Manchester had a productive and enlightening conversation regarding the Chandler House,” reads the statement. “We look forward to continuing to work together to try and find a mutually-agreed upon resolution that works for the Diocese, St. Hedwig Parish and the greater Manchester community.”
Thomas Bebbington, spokesman for the Diocese, said he hopes to provide further information when it becomes available, but stressed church officials would not comment further on Tuesday’s meeting with Craig.
Lauren Smith, chief of staff for Mayor Craig, also declined to comment on the specifics of the conversation.
A source with knowledge of the discussion said both sides felt “positive” about the session, saying additional details on a solution amicable to both sides could be announced in the coming weeks.
John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Association, said he spoke to the mayor ahead of Tuesday’s meeting but didn’t have details on what was discussed.
“Hopefully Mayor Craig’s negotiating skills can convince the Diocese the Currier Museum would be the perfect steward for the Chandler House,” said Clayton.
The Diocese had been in talks with the Currier Museum of Art, just across Beech Street from the Chandler House. The arrangement would have allowed the museum to undertake the repair and renovations of the building — estimated at $2 million — in exchange for a long-term, low-cost lease, according to the statement.
“Unfortunately, despite good faith efforts on both sides, we were unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement,” Libasci wrote in a statement to the Union Leader.
The mansion was originally the home of George Chandler, a businessman, banker and state senator. Since the property was acquired by the Diocese, the Chandler House has been home to several bishops and most recently served as a convent for Salesian nuns.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance listed Chandler House on its Seven to Save list in 2015.