MANCHESTER, NH –More than 80 people turned out along Beech Street Sunday morning to protest the barriers the Catholic Diocese of Manchester has erected against the renovation of the Chandler House, a 150-year-old mansion at 147 Walnut St., adjacent to the Hedwig Church.
The diocese owns the property, and it had been unoccupied and on the market for five years. Earlier this month, the diocese applied for a demolition permit. Mayor Joyce Craig has written to the bishop, the Most Rev. Peter Libasci, appealing his decision.
“I strongly believe we should do everything we can to ensure it is preserved for generations to come,” the mayor wrote in a June 23 letter.
A real estate agent and the Currier Museum of Art, directly across Beech Street from Chandler House, have said the diocese has rejected their offers. The diocese, meanwhile, insists that any reuse be consistent with the church’s mission and that the mansion is currently a safety hazard.
The Currier Museum would like to restore the house and open the main floor of the mansion to museum visitors. Offices would be constructed in the upper floors.
The Chandler mansion was built in the late 1880s and sold to the diocese in 1915, according to research conducted by Ed Brouder for the Manchester Historic Association. It served as home to at least three bishops and as a convent in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The house is on the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s 2015 “Seven to Save” list.