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Moving Stories

The proposal to move the Gunn House — the Queen Anne building facing Church Lane — a few yards across Elm Street, to the Baldwin parking lot, has generated lots of comments on “06880.”

It’s an intriguing idea — but it’s not exactly novel.

Today’s plan pales in comparison with a move more than 60 years ago. In 1950 Saugatuck Congregational Church — yes, the entire church — moved across and down the Post Road.

Saugatuck Congregational Church today.

The handsome building looks like it’s always been there. But from 1832 through the mid-20th century, the church sat 600 feet away — where the gas station and bank are now, behind the Baron’s South property near the corner of South Compo.

The church parsonage was located where it is today, near Myrtle Avenue. That house and 8 acres of land were a gift from Morris K. Jesup, in 1884.

A special meeting of the congregation on September 11, 1947, authorized the relocation of the meetinghouse to the parsonage property.

Three years later — in the early dawn of August 28, 1950 — the Post Road was blocked. 500 men, women and children gathered for a service of prayer and thanksgiving.

Then — at 60 feet per hour — the 200-ton building was moved down a 19-foot incline on 55 logs, which revolved under runners. “This is more fun than a cocktail party!” one “Westport matron” told Life magazine.

By nightfall, the 128-year-old Saugatuck Church had a new home. Six decades later, it looks like it’s been there forever.

Life Magazine chronicled the church move in its September 11, 1950 issue.

Other notable moves include the white office building in the back of Colonial Green (it started at the front of the property, now the site of Webster Bank — directly across from Saugatuck Church); a white barn that was once part of Nyala Farm (it was moved across Green’s Farms Road, into a meadow), and the house at 97 Hillspoint Road, relocated in 1960 when Hillspoint School was built.

And, of course, the Sherwood House. A dilapidated structure, it was brought a few yards closer to the street. That helped create a lively scene, with great outdoor dining, for the new tenant: the Spotted Horse restaurant.

Which is, of course, directly opposite the hopefully-soon-t0-be-moved Gunn House.

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