St. Paul’s School – Chapels Restoration

  • Concord, NH
  • Award Winning Historical Restoration
  • 17,500 Square Feet (Total Project)
  • Project Completed Approximately $350,000 below GMP

North Branch was selected as Construction Manager from a short listed group of 5 firms that were invited to submit final proposals for the Chapel Capital Renewal Project. The $6.7 million (original construction budget) project included major restoration and system replacements and upgrades to the historic Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul (1888) and the Old Chapel (1858).

The design team included Ann Beha Architects (Boston, MA), Building Conservation Associates (Dedham, MA), Reed Hilderbrand Associates (Cambridge, MA) and Ripman Lighting Consultants (Belmont, MA).

Although some of the construction began in April 2002, the project did not get into full swing until mid June, after students vacated the campus for summer vacation. The renovations to the Old Chapel (originally constructed in 1858 and last restored in 1988) included a new slate roof, new lighting and audio systems, mechanical and electrical upgrades, new fire alarm system and sprinkler system, minor masonry restoration and foundation waterproofing.

As with many historical renovations, there were many unknown hidden conditions discovered during construction. When the existing granite foundation (which was to receive foundation drains and waterproofing) was excavated, it was discovered that the dry laid foundation was in danger of structural failure. It was determined that a steel reinforced one sided formed concrete foundation wall needed to be poured against the existing foundation. This new foundation was dug and completed in three separate segments in order to ensure the existing 140+ year old chapel remained stable throughout the operation.

The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul (originally designed by Henry Vaughan in 1888) had been modified and expanded several times over the years; the tower was added in 1894 and the building was significantly expanded in 1928. With this major restoration North Branch Construction repointed, patched and cleaned the brick and brownstone fa├žade of the building, replaced portions of the slate roof, provided new mechanical, electrical, audio, lighting and fire alarm systems and replaced wood, stone and quarry tile flooring (which required the removal of all pews and most fixed furniture pieces in the building).

The areas surrounding the chapels also received new landscaping, new (reconfigured) brick walkways, a brick plaza and a new ADA compliant ramp. As with the Old Chapel, several unforeseen hidden conditions had to be contended with, including replacing existing wood or in some places dirt and rubble subflooring with new structural systems (lightweight concrete or new wood framing/subflooring). Extensive protective coverings on windows and remaining fixed architectural carved woodwork (e.g. elaborate wooden reredos) were required on the interior of the building. The pews were removed and re-installed once the new flooring was in place.

The restoration project was substantially completed in December 2002 as scheduled, at a cost approximately $350,000 below the Guaranteed Maximum Price.

In October 2003 North Branch won the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) President’s “Best of The Best” and Excellence in Construction Award for this project.