Everyone Lift! Kemper-Gunn House Move Set For Tuesday

It’s not the Saugatuck Congregational Church move. But it should be pretty cool anyway.

In 1950, the church — sanctuary, bell tower, hymnals and all — was moved from its longtime location near Baron’s South (the site today of a gas station) across the Post Road (then called State Street) to its current spot on the corner of Myrtle Avenue (where it now looks like it’s been all along).

How do you move a church? In 1950, this way.

How do you move a church? In 1950, this way.

The move — accomplished thanks to a series of logs — took 10 hours. Life Magazine spotlighted the event. (It was a slow news week.)

This Tuesday (starting at 6:30 a.m.), the much smaller Kemper-Gunn House makes a much shorter trip. The 1890-era building will be wheeled — or in some other way conveyed — across Elm Street. Its new home is the Baldwin parking lot.

An artist's rendering of the Kemper-Gunn House, after it is moved to the Baldwin parking lot.

An artist’s rendering of the Kemper-Gunn House, after it settles in at the Baldwin parking lot.

Lost in the mists of history is what those mid-20th-century Westporters did while watching the church make its verrrry slooooow trip down Route 1.

But we do know what will happen Tuesday. Java — the 1-year-old coffee shop across Church Lane from Kemper-Gunn —  will hand out free coffee and baked goods (courtesy of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce).

Pray for good weather.

15 responses to “Everyone Lift! Kemper-Gunn House Move Set For Tuesday

  1. Back in the 40’s and early 50’s everyone read Life Magazine. They had a weekly feature called “Life Goes to a Party.” And the party associated with the moving of the church was the sale of lemonade and brownies to help pay the moving cost. The move cost $600.00 which was big money in those days.

  2. Alison J. B. Patton

    I’ve got members who still remember when Saugatuck Church got moved. What did they do? They brought picnics! I’m also told they stopped the church in the middle of the street and held a church service … but I think that’s apocryphal 🙂

  3. Sandy Soeenichsen

    Where are they going to put it until the foundation is fine at its new location?

    • Sandy Soennichsen

      Ooooops, so much for auto correct. Should have said “foundation is done…..” Sorry.

  4. Michael Calise

    The structure is always moved to its final location and the basement walls are built up to it and then it is lowered down to the walls. This way there is a perfect fit between the building and its new foundation.

    • I understand that Michael, but last I saw, Thursday or Friday, it was just a big hole, no concrete slab, nothing. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they just bring it over there and put it next to their excavation.

  5. Moving buildings used to be a cottage industry in Westport before overhead utilities and other matters made what will happen on Tuesday a rarity. However, you don’t always have to move buildings to repurpose them – something that should be kept in mind with respect to the elegant mansion that, ahem, we all own in Barons South. At present, the structure is in fairly good repair and retains an astonishing amount of its original fabric. Here’s hoping that the success of Kemper Gunn will inspire more of the same.

  6. David Waldman-thanks for keeping the house. Some wanted it and now we still have it. Looking forward to seeing the new ‘mom and ‘pops’ that will be opening.

  7. What company are you using? Or, will this trek be on the next episode of “Monster Moves”?

  8. A special thank you to Matt Mandell and David Waldman for going above and beyond! Looking forward to seeing you there!

  9. Matthew Mandell

    Will be a great day . There will be heaters there to keep folks warm too. David rustled some up when we saw temp would be cold. Will have time lapse cameras rolling too to capture the event. See you all there.

  10. Wait a minute, I thought we were going to get to pull the house across the street ourselves. I’ve been working out for a month.

  11. I met several Westporters this morning who HAD been there when the Saugatuck Church was rolled down the road. Like Michael Calise and Gordon Joseloff (and Judy Gault Sterling missed it because they were just coming home from a VT vacation). I was only 7, but it made a huge impression on me (the ENTIRE town lined the Post Road, it seemed), so I wouldn’t have missed this freezing cold event for anything. Thanks to David and Matthew for saving the old house that osteopath Dr. Frey used to practice in. Uh, one question: where were the heaters this morning? 🙂 And where were you, Dan, unless you came earlier than 7:15.