LACONIA — Two downtown buildings that have been neighbors for nearly 50 years are soon to be married. The Congregational Church of Laconia - UCC broke ground yesterday on a project to build a second-floor bridge joining the gothic, century-old church, located at the corner of Pleasant Street and Veterans Square, with the next-door Parish House. The project is the third of four capital improvements the church is undertaking, which will cost a cumulative $800,000.
"About three years ago we realized that there were certain capital projects we needed to accomplish," said Rev. Dr. Warren Bouton. The church has already renovated its kitchen and upgraded its elevator, and plans to improve the foyer at the church's entrance from Pleasant Street. The enclosed bridge between the two buildings, which is expected to cost $425,000, will allow for parishioners to travel from from the church to the Parish House, for programs such as Sunday school, without having to go outside and cross a driveway. Also included in the project will be what Bouton calls a "welcome center," a ground-level entrance that will enhance the safety and comfort of people using the elevator to enter the church.
Because the circa 1959 Parish House does not have an elevator, the bridge will allow less mobile church members and visitors to access the second floor of the Parish House by taking the elevator to the second floor and then crossing the bridge across the driveway.
Bouton said that the church's building team wanted to connect the two buildings without blocking the foot traffic that often flows between the church and the Parish House. People often use the driveway to walk to the farmers' market held in the municipal parking lot behind the two buildings, or from the lot to access nearby restaurants. "This driveway is a thoroughfare for the community," he said. The passageway will no longer be open to vehicle traffic, however.
The church has hired Bauen Corporation of Meredith to complete the work.
CAPTION for CONGREGATIONAL GROUND BREAKING in AA-2014
A ceremonial ground-breaking was held for the project to connect the Congregational Church of Laconia - UCC to the Parish House next door via a second-story bridge. Shown here, left to right in the back row, are church members Bob Bengtson, Ted Tunnicliffe, Dan Tinkham, Ray Vercoe, Alida Millham, site superintendent Wayne Dale, and church member John Kreitler. In the front row, left to right, are church members Sandy Brallier and Peg Petrie, Associate Pastor Paula Gile, Rev. Dr. Warren Bouton, and project manager Greg Smith. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)
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