Nashua Locale Hero: Richard Lannan

About this series: Meet our Local Heroes, a special band of folks dedicating their lives to making things even better in the great Granite State places they have chosen to live and work and play.


Nashua’s Jim Donchess and Richard Lannan at the newly opened Nashua Center for the Arts.

With the most public art of any city in the state, dozens of artist organizations and acclaimed orchestra Symphony New Hampshire calling Church Street home, Nashua has quietly become a creative hotbed for the Granite State. The only thing they were missing, in the opinion of many, was a performing arts center. That is, until now.

Nashua Center for the Arts (NCA), located at 201 Main Street, opened its doors on April 1, thanks in large part to a vibrant coterie of community members who’ve been pushing for nearly six years to turn the once-far-off dream into a reality. Richard Lannan, president and owner of The Lannan Company, has done as much as just about anybody. As president of Nashua Community Arts, a nonprofit formed in 2018 to raise money for NCA, and chair of the steering committee, an organization responsible for vital decision-making concerning the brass-tacks construction of the building, Lannan led the behind-the-scenes charge in getting the NCA off the ground. When the Nashua Board of Aldermen approved a $21 million bond dedicated to the NCA if the community could privately raise $4 million, Lannan spearheaded the cause at Nashua Community Arts, rallying nearly 500 donors, big and small, to contribute to the cause.

“The whole performing arts center is like a big team of heroes working together,” says Judith Carlson, longtime Nashua resident and secretary of Nashua Community Arts, “but Rich is our number one lead hero by far. He’s done more than anybody on this whole project for years, and he’s just incredible.”

“Rich Lannan has shown his commitment to Nashua in so many ways,” Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess says. “His tireless efforts on downtown improvement projects will reap economic and quality-of-life benefits for Nashuans and visitors to our city for decades to come.”

At The Lannan Company, 67-year-old Lannan works in real estate investment and development, managing apartment complexes, retail properties, shopping centers and more. His 45 years of real estate experience proved salient for NCA — from helping hire an architect for the building design to choosing a prime location that would act as a community stronghold. And in the heart of downtown on Main Street, in a location previously home to Nashua staples like Sunlight Pharmacy, Miller’s Department Store and Alec’s Shoes, Lannan’s confident they got it right.

“It’s going to be for the benefit of the whole city,” Lannan says. “And people aren’t going to have to drive an hour or two to see a show — it’s going to be right in their backyard. When people come for an event, they’re going to hit downtown, hit the restaurants and the bars, hit some of the shops. We talk a lot about the effect and economic benefit for downtown, which is real, but I think it’s going to be for the benefit of the whole city.”

Mayor Donchess shares many of the same feelings. “The Nashua Center for the Arts is another exciting step in the renaissance of our city’s downtown,” Donchess says. “This new and unique venue will attract tens of thousands of people to attend live shows, while increasing revenue for our Main Street neighborhood restaurants and small business owners.”

The NCA isn’t merely hosting concerts — although the 753 seats and 1,000-person standing room capacity function exceptionally well in that regard. Lannan stressed again and again how dynamic the space will be, designed to host wedding receptions, corporate banquets and numerous other community events, along with a rotating gallery on the first floor where local artists can display and sell their work. In Lannan’s eyes, NCA will be the heart of Nashua’s already-bountiful art scene, bringing various groups together all under the same roof.

“It’s more than a music venue — that’s why we wanted to call it the Nashua Center for the Arts,” Lannan says. “It’s arts and music but it’s also a lot of other things, and this will be a very versatile building. The arts — I’ve learned very quickly over the last four or five years — are much bigger than what I thought they meant.”

“It’s going to bring a whole different level of vibrancy to Nashua,” Carlson says.

Categories: Locale Heroes