HARRISON – When the porch roof collapsed under the weight of last winter’s snow, building contractor Averill Davis said that was it: He would build his longtime friend David Card a new house.

“I got tired of looking at this,” Davis said Tuesday as he walked toward the dilapidated 200-year-old farmhouse and barn at 12 Mill St.

The rambling, 1834 house sat stripped of paint, its metal roof sagging from the barn and the bay windows boarded up.

Card, 70, suffered a massive stroke several years ago, leaving him in a wheelchair.

Davis’ desire to build his friend a safe and handicapped-accessible home quickly blossomed into a townwide mission.

On Sept. 2, an excavator will begin to dismantle the house just off Main Street. Within eight weeks, volunteers expect to build a modest ranch-style house. Contributors and contractors will donate labor and building materials.

When asked how he feels about leaving his home, Card gives a thumbs-up and a hearty laugh. But as he wheels past a 1950s rotary telephone and an old hand-colored photograph of his mother, Maida, and father, Lawrence, a plumber and sheriff, which still hang on the faded wallpaper, there is a hint of nostalgia in his eyes.

Pointing to the barn behind the house, Card revealed that a 1917 Wurlitzer pipe organ was once on the third floor, the same barn where his mother ran a laundry and steam press service for many years.

Cooking, and particularly pie baking, was a skill Card said he learned from his mother and grandmother. He ran the Kubby Hole restaurant, now the Olde Mill Tavern on Main Street, a stone’s throw from his house, for years starting in the late 1960s. It was known for its fried clams, prime rib and, of course, pies.

“David has always been known to remember names as well as the particular dishes that his regulars and summer residents favored,” said Martha Merrill of R.W. Merrill Electrical Contractors in Harrison.

“His memory is particularly keen when it comes to Harrison’s history, as well as some tidbits that might draw a great laugh about the town’s past characters,” she said.

Card’s house was known as the Lange House because Postmaster Charles Lange lived there after its original owners, Betsy and David Morse, the local blacksmith, said Gerald Smith of the Harrison Historical Society. It was one of the few downtown buildings not destroyed when fire swept the north side of the square about 1905 and was considered vital to preventing the spread of the flames, according to the 1909 Centennial History of Harrison.

“Some of the brave young boys from Bridgton Academy got up on the roof of the house. Of course all they had was water buckets at that time. They splashed water on it and managed to save that house,” Smith said.

There will be no saving it now. The debris will be burned by the fire department after the house is demolished in a few weeks.

As Card prepared to leave the home where people were busily removing his items for safekeeping, he gave a thumbs up again and another hearty laugh. He is ready to move on.



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