Let’s save the Emma B. French Hall building (dedicated to the City of Manchester, circa 1916)

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

“In the early 1900s, Emma Blood French was inspired to create a cultural educational institution in Manchester as the city became an industrial powerhouse. She underwrote and built the Manchester Institute of Arts and Sciences (which became NHIA in 1997).” – S. Stephanie

“It would be a place for lectures, concerts, art exhibits, film presentations and most importantly, learning at affordable cost to virtually anyone who wanted to take advantage of the school’s offerings.” – Emma B. French

“Our mission.
Save the French absolutely, but also bring the Manchester Institute of Arts and Science’s back to the French Building.
This is what we want.
We are not looking to revitalize a college more to revitalize an arts community.
To have the space the Institute used to provide for the people (of Manchester.)”  – Shyla Hazen

Manchester Institute of Arts & Sciences

The “Save the French Building” Group of NH is made up of artists, educators, patrons, administrators, columnists, activists, friends, parents and students, all having a deep connection to the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) and originally The Manchester Institute of Arts & Sciences, circa 1916.

In a few short years, the merger (or takeover) by (NEC) New England College in 2019 left the Institute of Art with fewer resources, depleted faculty and canceled Community Education and graduate programs. Buildings were slowly sold and security minimized. The once vibrant campus became misguided, mismanaged and subsequently abandoned.

This is how it used to be. We can make it new, again.

Throughout its run, NHIA made great efforts (and not without its faults) to carry on the noble intentions of its founder, Emma B. French. It provided this Queen City with a thriving arts and education culture with programs for teens, aspiring young artists and adults, while maintaining a long-standing partnership with the Palace Theater and the Currier Museum.

It has already been our loss and would be a greater loss to let it all go.

This is the beginning of our collective effort to hold tightly to a beautiful structure and a generous endowment gifted to the creative community of Manchester. This is our effort to maintain and protect our relationship with the Institute of Art & Sciences and the particular legacy of the Emma B. French Hall, located at 148 Concord St. Manchester, NH.

Please support our efforts to retain this building as a space for creative growth, as a strong thread of our social fabric, in hopes that we will once again be the Queen City we are destined to be.

A meeting is planned for July 10 at City Hall in the Stiles Room, second floor, 5:30 p.m. All are welcome. Those interested in joining the discussion online can find the Save the French Building group here on Facebook.  

Original banner for Manchester Institute of Arts & Sciences

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About this Author

Jason Bagatta

Jason Bagatta is an Artist-educator, living and working in Manchester, NH. He is the founder and lead Instructor at Art House Studios School for Drawing & Painting in Manchester and also teaches at The Currier Museum and MassArt.