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Kemper-Gunn House Rolls Into New Role In Downtown Westport

Video Credit: Salvatore Trifilio
The Kemper-Gunn House on Church Lane was lifted from its foundation and moved across the street to town-owned property, where it will be used as a business incubator. Photo Credit: Salvatore Trifilio

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Residents gathered in the bitter cold during the early morning hours on Tuesday, Nov. 18, to watch a historic home on Church Lane, saved from demolition, roll across the street to its new location on town-owned property in downtown Westport.

“The whole process that’s taking place here actually goes back more than two years,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said. “A lot of people who were interested in preservation, saving this house, got together in this grassroots movement and organized the leadership of Westport around saving the house, preserving it and repurposing it.”

In order to move the 1885 house, Wolfe House and Building Movers in Pennsylvania used a hydraulic jacking system and straight lifts to mount the house on wheels.

According to Wolfe officials, it took four days to lift and ready the home.

The wheels that slowly moved the home across the street were powered by a generator placed on the far side porch of the home.

According to Mike Brovont, lead estimator at Wolfe, the project was relatively routine.

He said they’ve moved many homes and buildings that were created in the 1800s and even 1700s and have only run into problems when the structure is in poor condition, which was not the case with the Kemper-Gunn home.

On average, Wolfe Home and Building Movers complete about 100 similar projects a year.

The move marks an important next step for Westport’s downtown.

“This is an exciting moment,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said. “We are repurposing [the Kemper-Gunn House] and the Family Y building to mixed-use commercial as well as apartments, and it is part of the renewal of our whole downtown area.”

According to Marpe, the Kemper-Gunn home will be used as an incubator for nonchain businesses.

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