St. Joe's Tara Shore

Tara Shore is part of a group trying to save the St. Joseph Church in Laconia, which the diocese had planned to demolish last year. (Rick Green/The Laconia Daily Sun photo)

LACONIA — A nonprofit organization formed to save St. Joseph Church has sent a letter to Father Marc Drouin of St. Andre Bessette Parish to urge that a demolition permit for the 1929-era building be lifted.

The letter, publicly released by the St. Joseph Church Preservation Society on Thursday, also requested an estimate for repairs and hazardous waste remediation and an accounting of funds in a church campaign for the building.

Drouin and diocese spokesman Thomas Bebbington were unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon. The diocese backed off earlier plans to demolish the church after a public outcry in favor of saving the structure.

The letter from the preservation society expresses concern about the future of the structure.

“We are writing with heavy hearts and concern that it may still be the intent of the Diocese of Manchester to demolish this sacred and iconic building,” the letter stated.

“Although this saddens us deeply, our commitment to preserving St. Joseph’s is steadfast and unrelenting.

“We intend to avail ourselves of all legal means necessary and advocate on behalf of St. Joseph’s, its faithful parishioners, the legacy of those departed who sacrificed for the construction and upkeep of the church, and for non-parishioners who value this building and believe its destruction will permanently scar the city of Laconia.”

The group sent a letter to Pope Francis last year asking that the church not be demolished.

“We remain committed to this appeal and believe Canon Law protocols for decommissioning a Catholic Church were not complied with,” the current letter to Drouin stated.

The letter said the society has expressed a willingness to create an endowment to cover the estimated $37,000 it would cost in yearly operating expenses to preserve a portion of the church as a Catholic chapel, but not to make repairs and renovations now needed.

“It was not implied, nor is it the intent of the Preservation Society to fund the needed renovations to the church,” the letter states. “It remains our position that a fundraising campaign on behalf of St. Joseph’s necessary repair and restoration was commenced years ago and to the best of our knowledge was successful.

“It seems consistent with that campaign, money donated for renovations of St. Joseph’s should have been segregated and used for that intended purpose.”

The letter was signed by society members Tara Shore, Linda Normandin, Karen Sullivan, Robert Smith, Paul J. Gaudet Sr., Donna G. Hosmer and Andrew J. Hosmer.

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