NORWAY — Movers of the historic Gingerbread House are expected to try to make the 950-foot trek up Main Street again Friday morning, following their decision late Thursday afternoon to suspend work for the day.

“You either do it right or it’s best not to do it,” said James Merry of James G. Merry Building Movers of Scarborough, who contracted with a private group to move the house for $25,000.

Although the movers had hydraulically placed wheels under the Gingerbread House by 11 a.m., Merry made the decision shorty after 3 p.m. to halt the process until the morning.

The decision was based on his concern that the house could be moved out to the street by evening, but the vehicle pulling the house could tie up two lanes of traffic all night.

“I didn’t want to pull out and then get into the dark,” Merry said. Traffic is expected to be rerouted again Friday while the move takes place.

When word spread about the delay, a loud groan was heard from many of the several hundred people who had lined Main Street for hours, some coming from as far away as New York and arriving as early as 8 a.m., to watch the long-anticipated move of the historic building.


People, sitting on lawn chairs or standing along the north side of Main Street throughout the day, watched the slow process by Merry and his sons Steve, Josh and Jason, as they reinforced a girder that attached the flatbed to the pulling vehicle, then hydraulically pumped the wheels up off the cribbing.

The vehicle being used to pull the house is called a tank retriever because it was built to carry up to three tankers on a low bed, Josh Merry said.

“It will be cool to watch it,” said 13-year-old Levi Buck. He, his three brothers and mother, Jan Buck, of Buckfield, and Jan’s sister, Jill Dettling, and her children from Bridgton arrived at around 9 a.m. to watch the move.

Jan Buck and her sister grew up around the corner in a house on Pleasant Street and remembered the house as children. “I actually played in that house when I was a kid,” Buck said. “To preserve this, it’s special.”

The Gingerbread House at Main Street and Pikes Hill Road is being moved up Main Street to a small lot by Butters Park.

The nonprofit Norway Landmarks Preservation Society, which is doing business as Friends of the Gingerbread House, has worked for the past several years to acquire the building and move it to a new lot.


Members of the Friends of the Gingerbread House provided spectators with doughnuts and coffee for a donation, while member Joan Beal sold pins that read, “Save the Gingerbread House.”

Others, such as the Oxford Hills Middle School Builders, Club, which has been raising money for the Gingerbread House for the past two years, were on hand, one in a Gingerbread Man costume, to help support the move. They will hold a yard sale in front of the Norway Historical Society from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 11, to raise more money for the restoration effort.

Pat Shearman, chairwoman of the Friends of the Gingerbread House, said the group had raised about $150,000 for the restoration process and was now trying to raise $5,000 by summer to take advantage of an available $20,000 matching grant from the Davis Family Foundation. Fundraising will continue as restoration efforts are pursued.

The group is hoping to restore the building and will eventually decide how to use it.

The three-story building is 17 feet wide in the rear, 29 feet wide in the front and 88 feet long. Although it is on the National Register of Historic Places, its designation is expected to change once it is relocated outside the Norway Historic District, said Norway Downtown President Andrea Burns.

C’s Inc. which is a real estate holding company affiliated with Sun Media Group, publishers of the Sun Journal and the Advertiser-Democrat, agreed late in 2008 to delay demolition of the 1851 house if anyone could figure out a way to move the massive building. Volunteers banded together to save the landmark building.


Originally known as the Evans-Cummings House, the Gingerbread House and its octagonal tower has graced the entrance to Norway from the north since 1851.

The builder was Richard Evans, a contractor who also built the Nash house on Pleasant Street in Norway and the passenger railroad station in South Paris.

View Gingerbread House move route in a larger map

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