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Architectural firm moving forward after founder’s death.

  • David Drasba and Alison Meltzer, Monahon Architects<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • David Drasba and Alison Meltzer, Monahon Architects<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • David Drasba and Alison Meltzer, Monahon Architects<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — Architect David Drasba spent the last eight years at a desk sandwiched between the work spaces of Rick and Duffy Monahon at the couple’s architectural office on the second floor of the Granite Block building at the corner of Main and Grove streets.

“I had Rick on one side and Duffy on the other, which made it lively,” Drasba said on Monday. “They often had common goals, but they had very different ways of getting there.”

The Monahons, who had been highly active in preserving Peterborough’s heritage through work on various town boards and committees as well as through their profession, died together on Jan. 27 after their 2013 Subaru Forester collided head-on with a 2006 Toyota Camry on Route 9 in Hillsborough. The occupants of the Camry, a Concord couple, also died in the crash.

The deaths came as a shock to both the community and to Drasba and his colleague Alison Meltzer, the other project manager at the firm. But now Drasba is moving ahead, making arrangements to take over the business and continuing to work on projects that were under way at the time of the accident.

“We’re looking to build on the work Rick and Duffy had done,” he said. “We’ve always had a very open office and knew about each other’s projects. The response from our clients has been very uplifting. It’s been a roller coaster, and people are giving us time to get organized.”

Drasba said the Monahon family has been working through the legal issues related to settling the couple’s estate.

“The family has been very supportive,” he said. “I’ll probably shorten the name to Monahon Architects, but we’ll definitely be keeping the name.”

Grant Monahon, Rick’s brother and executor of the estate, said Rick had often talked about having Drasba take over the office at some point.

“We’re certainly looking forward to having Dave continue with the Monahon Architects office and hope that will be a successful venture for him,” Grant Monahon said on Tuesday. “Rick had brought Dave in looking ahead to the fact that Rick wouldn’t be staying involved forever. It seems natural to turn to Dave at this time. It’s not how we planned it, but we want to make sure the transition happens. We feel there’s a legacy involved.”

Drasba first came to New Hampshire in 1999, when he opened a branch in Peterborough for the Pennsylvania firm where he was a senior partner. He later opened his own business in Hancock, worked as a consultant to local architect Dan Scully, and got to know Rick Monahon.

“I joined forces with Rick in 2008,” said Drasba, 56, who lives in Hancock. “He was looking for someone to eventually take over the business. It was the right fit for both of us. But at about that time, the economy went completely in the tank and we put everything on hold.”

Drasba will be working closely with Meltzer, 56, a Wilton resident who holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of New Mexico and has been a project manager at the Monahon firm since 2004.

“Alison has lots of experience here,” Drasba said. “The two of us will be running all the projects.”

Drasba said 2012 was the best year financially since he’d been with the company, and Monahon had even, after 40 years in the downtown office, put up a sign outside the Grove Street entrance door.

“We’re just finishing up the housing project for the Peterborough Players,” he said. “We’ve started a project in Keene at Wyman Tavern for the Cheshire County Historical Society. We’re working on a plan for the Jaffrey Town Office; that’s still up in the air.”

One of the company’s strengths has been the renovation of town halls or meetinghouses. The company is waiting to hear about possible meetinghouse renovation projects in Washington and Bradford, although those are also on hold for now after voters failed to approve funding at town meetings.

“I have no idea exactly what the future may hold, we’re just going to keep plugging away,” Drasba said.

He said they’ll be focusing new business as well as maintaining the ties Monahon had developed.

“I’ve run an office before, but Rick was the marketing arm of this firm,” Drasba said. “He had 40 years of contacts, a wide net. We’re well established with our current clients, but you need to go find the new ones.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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