The state’s northernmost arts venue celebrated its history as the former home of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Seminary with the unveiling of a New Hampshire Register of Historic Places marker.
Donna Jordan, a grant writer and member of the management team at the center, cited the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources’ finding that the property is “significant for its contributions to the social and religious life of French-Canadian priests in training.”
The Columbia site was also home to the Parsons farm and the former Hampshire Inn at one time.
State Rep. Dennis Thompson and District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney did the unveiling honors.
“It’s so New Hampshire what you’re doing,” Kenney said at Saturday’s ceremony, addressing ceremony attendees, among them Jordan and her husband, Charlie, president of the Great North Woods Center for the Arts.
Charlie Jordan, who with his wife is also the publisher of the weekly Colebrook Chronicle newspaper, said the center has been supported by the state and volunteers “who not only know the arts but know the structure” of each of the buildings on the site.
In 2018, the Great North Woods Center for the Arts purchased the property from the Oblates for $100,000 and since then has worked to improve it, creating space for musical and theatrical performances, maker space and housing for visiting artists and performers.
Located on Route 3, just south of Colebrook, the campus is home to the Great North Woods Center for the Arts, which does music programming, the Connecticut River Artisan Group, which does visual arts and the Carriage Lane Players.
“It’s 80% of where we want it to be,” Charlie Jordan said after the ceremony.
“The beauty of this place is we have both indoor and outdoor facilities” to accommodate the arts, even in inclement weather, said Jordan, who compared the center’s broad offerings to Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
“We want to make this area known for the arts,” he said.
A big part of that was making the ground-level space beneath the Oblates’ former church useable. That space on Saturday hosted numerous arts and crafts vendors and, in the future, will hold a small theater. The upstairs will become a performance space with room for 500 patrons.