Thursday Doors

DoorSt. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Epping, New Hampshire, was built in the late 1800’s.

Here in my hometown, there is one priest and four Catholic Churches that were merged into one Parish.

St. Charles built in 1893 has been on the market for several years now. They hope to sell it, tear it down and build workforce housing.

Catholic churches have had to evolve since reaching the point where there are not have enough priests to staff all available churches.

Over 100 years after St. Joseph’s Church was built, it was reborn into a very popular seacoast Irish pub restaurant, Holy Grail, by David and Maureen Kennedy.


HolyWaterThe stained glass windows, hanging light fixtures, pews, and even the baptismal font are still intact. Seeing a baptismal font next to a hostess stand was a little unnerving the first time. 🙂

The beautiful stairs ascending to the previous choir loft are in the background.

The restaurant has a very large menu including typical pub fare right down to original Irish bangers and mash and a large selection of draft beer and other beverages. The menu headings include virtuous soups, sanctified salads, ordained burgers, sinless sandwiches, saintly seafood, papal pasta, canonized coffee drinks or divine desserts.


We’ve eaten there twice this summer and the secret is to ask for a to-go-box as soon as the meal arrives because portions are large.

This Thursday door changed from serving the soul of the community to feeding the local community – not a bad transition. 🙂

Note:  The Kennedys tried to buy St. Charles Church as well as a church in Methuen, MA, to create restaurants but were turned down by the Diocese. They were able to buy St. Joseph’s Church in Epping because it had been originally sold to a buyer with a business plan that was approved by the Diocese and then resold. This summer, the Kennedys opened the Holy Grail of the Lakes in the former Evangelical Baptist Church of Laconia. They have decided to pursue non-Catholic churches as they expand their business.

Linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors September 10, 2015.

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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26 Responses to Thursday Doors

  1. reocochran says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Judy. The door was so warm and inviting. I like arched doors with panels. It creates a nice “pattern.”
    The idea of making a church into a restaurant called “Holy Grail” is so clever! Enjoy a heavenly dat, Judy. 🙂


  2. Midwestern Plant Girl says:

    Pretty interesting story. Didn’t know it was so hard to buy holy land. 😉


  3. Joyce says:

    I love how these churches are being recycled. Better than being torn down. And the menu you described just makes me smile. But yes, a baptismal font inside the front door of a restaurant? I’d pause at that too! 🙂 You really discover some neat places to eat – and some lovely doors as you travel between them!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Judy, I love the names they’ve given to meals in the menu so that it resonates with the premises! Lovely door as well 😊


  5. What a lovely use of the former church, but it’s sad that there aren’t enough people to fill it as a church. Where we used to live, a church had been turned into a fire department and another into a restaurant. Pretty sure the former didn’t have any pews or a font left. 😀. Oh, yes. The door here is lovely as well.

    Have a heavenly day.



  6. Dan Antion says:

    It’s a sad fate for such a majestic building, but it’s so much better than having it be torn down. I like that they left so much of the interior in tact, maybe that helps the spirit of the founding congregation to live on. The door itself is a fine bit of craftsmanship. I love the curves and, especially they way they worked the corner detail into the curbed upper panels. Nice door, great photo and it sounds like pretty good food. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norm 2.0 says:

    Around here, we’ve seen an awful lot of old catholic churches sold, torn down, repurposed or otherwise converted. There’s a huge old cathedral in Montreal’s Little Italy that was turned into condos a few years ago. Even though the did a good job of preserving the exterior, it was still kinda sad – and I’m not even catholic.
    Great post Judy!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. joey says:

    Clever name — great sense of humor on those Kennedys. Pretty, pretty door!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sweetk8 says:

    Great Story! If I’m ever there, and it’s still there I will definitely make a point of eating at the Holy Grail!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sammy D. says:

    What beautuful woodwork on the doors and throughout! I have a new appreciation for doormaking after Dan’s recent post about his unique cliset doors. I love the pub conversion. In another life (with my first husband) I owned and operated an Irish pub. It was a good life 😉


  11. pbmgarden says:

    The door is nice and I like the stained glass windows.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. lifelessons says:

    Nice to see what is behind the door!


  13. Fascinating Judy! Not sure what our French cousins would make of this! 🙂 Still, better that it be used for a communal activity than being pulled down.


  14. Lorrie says:

    Converting the church to a restaurant is better than tearing it down, and the atmosphere would be great with all the original features, but I do feel a pang of sadness that churches are not used for their original purpose. The meal looks wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Grandma Kc says:

    I love that they’ve converted it and I love that you share it with the rest of us. What a great place to visit! Maybe someday…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a story…from church to pub! Well Jesus DID say “feed my sheep” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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