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Newport Church Buys Claremont Building for $700

  • Tucked between the city's fire station and library in downtown Claremont, N.H., on Aug. 10, 2017, the former Unitarian Universalist Church on Broad Street has been purchased by the Lake Sunapee Baptist Church of Newport for $700. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The entry to the former Unitarian Universalist Church in Claremont, N.H., on Aug. 10, 2017, shows the amount of work needed to reopen the building. The Claremont City Council has accepted a bid of $700 to sell the building on Broad Street to Lake Sunapee Baptist Church of Newport. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Friday, August 11, 2017

Claremont — The City Council has accepted a bid of $700 to sell the former Unitarian Universalist Church on Broad Street to Lake Sunapee Baptist Church of Newport.

Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said it was the only bid the city received on the building, which sits on about a quarter of an acre between the fire station and Fiske Free Library.

According to a National Register nomination on the Connecticut River Joint Commissions website, the church was first built in 1832 in a late Federal style, then remodeled in 1883 to Victorian Gothic, when the front tower was added.

The land beneath the building was deeded to the Universalist Church in 1972, and the city placed covenants that restricted the use to a nonprofit. The city reacquired the land and building in 1989.

“From our perspective, we don’t have the money to upgrade the building, so it is better to have an owner who can repair it, make it functional and get it back in use,” Merrill said.

The city now will enter into a purchase and sale agreement for the church, which is assessed at $241,000.

Pastor Sam Coberley of Lake Sunapee Baptist Church said the church will maintain its presence on North Main Street in Newport and “expand their ministry opportunities” in Claremont.

He said the proximity to Stevens High School and Claremont Middle School, both within walking distance, makes the location suitable for some of their student programs.

“We do a lot with schools in Newport, including after-school programs for at-risk teens and food assistance,” Coberley said.

Coberley anticipates being able to occupy the church around the beginning of next year.

“We will be doing some renovations but we will keep the architectural integrity of the building,” Coberley said.

Mayor Charlene Lovett said the city has had to maintain the property over the years and it has become a fiscal drain, so selling it will eliminate those expenses.

“I think this is great news,” Lovett said on Thursday. “It is a historical asset to the city and they plan to revitalize the building. They are aware of the historical significance and are willing to put money into it.”

The building’s main floor is 3,100 square feet with an unfinished basement and cathedral ceiling area.

Lovett also said the city will retain ownership of the church’s bell and weathervane.

“We want to see the language in the contract so we are sure the city maintains the flexibility to do what we want with those artifacts,” Lovett said, including removing them if the city decides to do so at some point.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.