LACONIA — City leaders are moving forward with a plan for a historic district downtown, even though St. Joseph Church, the building that was the impetus for the proposal, would not be protected by it.

The Diocese of Manchester has requested a demolition permit for the circa-1929 building, meaning it would be grandfathered in under present regulations, which allow the Heritage Commission to delay, but not prohibit buildings from being torn down.

Under the proposal for a historic district, a new commission would have the ability to turn down such a request. That decision could be appealed, ultimately through the courts.

On Monday, a council committee decided to send to the full City Council a proposal for a historic district that would include the railroad station, the library and the church campus, which also contains the Busiel House and a school building. The proposal would also go to the Planning Board for consideration.

The Busiel House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a mansion built in 1865 for the owner of a local textile mill and is now used as a rectory.

Councilor David Bownes, who leads the council committee, said it is possible the historic district could be expanded as consideration continues.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I might favor an overlay district that was more broad and include the post office, the tavern and the churches.”

Other churches that could be included are the nearby Congregational Church and the former Evangelical Baptist Church, which was used for a time as a restaurant called Holy Grail of the Lakes. Also nearby is the Tavern Inn building, constructed in 1912. 

Laconia locations on the National Register of Historic Places:

Belknap Mill, Mill Street

Busiel House, 30 Church Street.

Busiel-Seeburg Mill, Mill Street

Endicott Rock, Weirs Channel

Evangelical Baptist Church, Veterans Square

Gale Memorial Library, 695 Main St.

Goss Reading Room, 188 Elm St.

Laconia District Court, Academy Square

Laconia Passenger Station, Veterans Square

New Hampshire Veterans Association Historic District, Lakeside Avenue

U.S. Post Office, 33 Church St.

United Baptist Church of Lakeport, 23 Park St.

The Weirs, Laconia

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