ELLS – In less than an hour, a 196-year-old house on Route 1 was towed to its new home.
The Storer Garrison House, built with timbers from the garrison that protected residents during a three-day attack in 1692, was moved about 1,000 feet north Friday in an effort that saved it from being demolished.
The house, built in 1816, is a landmark on Route 1. It’s unusual because it contains 9-inch beams with notches and cuts from their original use in the Storer garrison.
A plaque commemorating the garrison’s role during the French and Indian Wars is in a small state park next to the Storer Garrison House’s original location, at 1099 Post Road.
When Mark Gagnon, owner of the Garrison Suites motel, wanted to remove the building to improve the motel’s view of the ocean, town officials stepped in to help find a new owner.
Mike McDermott of Wells, who owns Mike’s Clam Shack, saw it as a perfect opportunity to save a historic house and provide affordable housing to his seasonal employees.
“It was a good fit,” he said Friday morning as he waited for Chase Building Movers to begin the move.
McDermott bought the house for $1 and hired Chase Building Movers. The town contributed as much as $15,000 to have utility lines lowered to make the move possible. The cost for the utility work has yet to be determined, town officials said.
The Storer Garrison House was built by John Pope, whose father bought the garrison from the Storer family in 1779.
After the garrison was leveled, the timber was used to build the Federal-style house, which is now eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Chase Building Movers, owned by Selectman Chris Chase, spent the last several weeks preparing the house for the move.
At 9 a.m. Friday, the truck hauling the two-story, five-bedroom house pulled off the Garrison Suites property and hung a quick right onto Route 1. Utility crews lowered lines as the house made its way up the road.
Ted Bucacci of Wells and his sons, 14-year-old Tommy and 6-year-old Dylan, were among the approximately 100 people who crowded sidewalks and parking lots to watch the move.
Bucacci, a lifelong Wells resident, said he has always been interested in town history and was glad to see the house saved.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot to see something like this happen,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how they can maneuver this big house down a small road.”
Others in the crowd expressed a mixture of excitement and sadness at watching a landmark move to a new location.
Jay and Priscilla Boomer of Wells praised McDermott for buying the house and paying to have it moved.
“Even though he’s from away, he really cares about this town,” Priscilla Boomer said. “A piece of history would have been lost if Mike hadn’t paid to save it.”
Paula Brooks Chase, the wife of Chris Chase, said her husband was happy to help find a new home for the Storer Garrison House.
“Chris really didn’t want to see it torn down,” she said. “We’re losing our history. That’s why it’s so important to save this house.”
An hour after Chase pulled his truck and the house onto Route 1, he pulled into the Mike’s Clam Shack parking lot, to cheers from the crowd.
The only damage sustained during the move was two plaster cracks. The house will be stored in the restaurant’s back parking lot until spring, when it will be set on a foundation.
McDermott expects his seasonal employees to begin using the house next year.
“Everyone got what they wanted,” said Gagnon, the hotel owner. “The house is preserved, I accomplished my goal and Mike gets housing he needed.”
Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: