Otisfield Town House is almost home

Courtesy of Otisfield Historical Society

The Otisfield Town House stands ready for the second and final leg of its journey to a new foundation.

OTISFIELD – Moving the 1905 Otisfield Town House to its new foundation began Friday and is expected to continue next week.

Leslie H. Dixon,Sun Journal

Building mover Dana Watson of Naples, standing over the newly-poured foundation for the Otisfield Town House, talks to his son, Cole, right, and Dick Murray as they lay more cribbing in the foundation Friday.

Leslie H. Dixon,Sun Journal

Cole Watson of Dana E. Watson & Son Building Movers in Naples, works on the support cribbing under the Otisfield Town House on Bell Hill Road on Friday. Dana Watson, his son Cole and another crew member moved the 1905 building about 20 feet toward its final resting spot. The move will continue next week.

Leslie H. Dixon,Sun Journal

Cole Watson and Dick Murray add more cribbing in the newly-poured foundation as the Otisfield Town House is readied to be moved Friday afternoon.

The 50-ton building was moved about 20 of the 40 feet it needs to go. Work is expected to resume Monday and if all goes well, the building should be on its foundation by Wednesday, said Dana Watson of Dana E. Watson & Son Building Movers in Naples.

“It's pretty straightforward,” he said.

The 32- by 38-foot wood-frame building on Bell Hill Road was built on granite stones, some of which had rolled out of position over the years due to the wetlands it sat on. The stones have been preserved and are being used in landscaping around the new foundation.

Earlier this winter, Watson jacked up the Town House and set it on cribbing in order to tow it a short distance so the cement foundation could be poured on the original footprint.

Watson, a longtime Naples selectman who started moving buildings in the late 1960s, said there is no real school to learn the trade.

“You just figure it out,”  he said.

He said he's moved everything from a three-story building to small camps.

“I've had so much fun doing it.”

Because the Town House was on wetlands, the surrounding ground needed to be raised to preserve it. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission worked with society members to ensure that the changes would not jeopardize the building's inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The foundation project is part of the Otisfield Historical Society's effort to restore the 1½-story structure to make it the headquarters for the society and a repository for the town's archives. The foundation work is estimated to cost nearly $55,000, according to society President Henry Hamilton.

The Town House replaced one at the same location and was used for town meetings, selectmen's meetings, elections and social events through the 1920s. Starting in 1985, town meetings were held in the municipal building on Route 121, according to information from Maine Historic Preservation Commission records. Voting continued at the Town House until 2002, when the building was closed to public use.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Genise Knowlton's picture

Otisfield Town House

This has been a great project to be a part of. Many thanks to people like Jean Hankins who houses our historical records and Callie Zilinsky for her willingness to research and write grant applications - and especially to the people who have been so financially generous in helping this project move forward. I'm not sure the towns people believed we could do it when they deeded it to the Historical Society some 5 +/- years ago! It will be a great venue in the future to host historical events/meetings and small social gatherings!

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