State adds Claremont church to register of historic places

Father Andrew Tregubov turns to face the congregation during a service at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Claremont, N.H., on Wednesday, March 3, 2022 in which prayers were offered for the cessation of hostilities against Ukraine. An Orthodox church in nearby Springfield, Vt., received hate messages accusing the church of being Russian communists early in the invasion. Both churches, though they were founded early in the 20th century by immigrants from what was then the Russian Empire, now belong to the Orthodox Church in America, and are non-ethnic. “There is no doubt where the church is standing and that is with the persecuted,” said Tregubov. “We stand with Ukraine.” (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Father Andrew Tregubov turns to face the congregation during a service at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Claremont, N.H., on Wednesday, March 3, 2022 in which prayers were offered for the cessation of hostilities against Ukraine. An Orthodox church in nearby Springfield, Vt., received hate messages accusing the church of being Russian communists early in the invasion. Both churches, though they were founded early in the 20th century by immigrants from what was then the Russian Empire, now belong to the Orthodox Church in America, and are non-ethnic. “There is no doubt where the church is standing and that is with the persecuted,” said Tregubov. “We stand with Ukraine.” (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news file photograph — James M. Patterson

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 08-10-2023 8:46 PM

CLAREMONT — When it came time to build a new church in the 1940s, members of Claremont’s Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church and Rectory looked to Berlin, N.H., for inspiration.

They borrowed the plans from that city’s Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, which resembles the more traditional architectural styles of churches in Eastern Europe, according the Rev. Andrew Tregubov, who leads the Claremont parish. But the Claremont parishioners had to make adjustments.

“The community here was very poor, so in order to complete the building, they had to lower the roof by about six or eight feet,” Tregubov said.

They also halved the size of the central dome. “The uniqueness here is not only intentional but because of the practical matters,” he said.

The church on Sullivan Street was completed in 1941. The parish itself was founded in 1909 by Eastern European immigrants who came to Claremont to work in the city’s bustling mills.

Now, the church has been added to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. It is “significant for its cultural and ethnic associations in Claremont and the Upper Valley region as well as for its architecture,” according to a news release New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.

“Orthodox Christian churches are few in the state of New Hampshire,” Tregubov said.

The addition of the church to the register was welcome news to David Messier, the longtime chairman of the Claremont Historic District Commission. While the church is not in the Claremont Historic District — which encompasses parts of Broad, Sullivan, Pleasant and Tremont streets downtown and is on the National Register of Historic Places — it has played an important part in the city’s history.

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“It is definitely a unique example of Russian architecture with the distinct onion domes and the Greek orthodox crosses on top of the domes,” Messier said. “There’s nothing else like that in the city and I’m sure very few in the state of New Hampshire.”

It also speaks to Claremont’s deep history as a center for immigration in the Granite State.

“Claremont, as a mill town, attracted immigrants from all across Europe looking for a better life in America,” Messier said. “Each cultural group developed their own community and built their own churches,” he added, citing St. Joseph’s Catholic Church which was founded by Polish immigrants as one example.

Immigrants helped shape the city.

“Having the state recognize the impact Russian immigrants had on our city and the whole area is an important recognition I think,” Messier said.

When the parish bought the Sullivan Street property in 1940, they converted an 1840s-era house into the church rectory. The property includes a carriage barn that Tregubov said was likely built even earlier.

“We just started renovating the barn because it really needs TLC,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of history in the parish and the property itself.”

Holy Resurrection has remained a presence in Claremont for more than 100 years, and there are currently around 100 parishioners, Tregubov said. The church is also significant because it has been a cultural center for people with Eastern European heritage who live in the region.

“We were thinking that all that rich history and the property we have should be included in the registry,” Tregubov said. He also is hoping that the designation could open up more funding opportunities to the parish as it continues to make improvements. “Right now, we’re taking care of this history.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.