CLAREMONT, NH–It’s been a long time coming, but a buyer has come forward for the historic church building on Broad Street. Nestled between the Fire Station and Fiske Free Library, the long-unused building is being purchased by the Lake Sunapee Baptist Church of Newport. Pastor Samuel Coberley addressed the City Council Wednesday evening to share plans his church has for the Claremont property.
Known as both the Unitarian Universalist Church and the Conference Center, the old church building, owned by the City, has sat empty, unused and deteriorating for many years, despite its historic value. Now, life will be restored if all goes according to plans.
The 1832 Annual Town Meeting authorized the First Universalist Society in Claremont to build “a house for public worship on the Com- mon in the center of the town”; the church be- longed to the First Universalist Society, but the land under it belonged to the town. Over time, various actions were taken, and the City took possession of both the church and the land in 1989.
The Newport Church will pay $700 for the property that had been advertised through an RFP earlier this year. The Lake Sunapee Baptist Church was the only response that the City received.
The Lake Sunapee Baptist Church will continue to operate in Newport as well, making the Claremont location its second point of service.
Coberley told the Council that he was “so impressed” with every City department with which he has worked to make the purchase happen. Renovations to the building will be extensive and he was asked if the congregation had the means to fund the project. He said the church had contractors and businesses that will be involved in the upgrade work, which will be a two-phase project. The goal is to expand “ministry opportunities” in the City, including working with schools. The historic Revere Bell in the steeple and weathervane will remain City property, and the City will have the opportunity to review the agreement to make sure it maintains the flexibility as to what to do with those items in the future.
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