NORWAY — With the sound of church bells ringing and a crowd of more than 200 people cheering, the 154-year-old Gingerbread House was moved farther up Main Street to its new site Friday.

As the the sun began to set, the house was still several yards short of its  final destination.

The moving truck was stuck for several hours in a ditch on the house’s new site. Late in the evening, workers used an excavator to pull the truck and the house from the ditch.

The excavator came from the site of a boarding that burned down several weeks ago next door to Ari’s Pizza and Subs.

Still, after the house stayed in place all day Thursday, Friday’s move was monumental.

“It’s amazing how well liquid soap can work,” 79-year-old James Merry of James G. Merry Building Movers said after the house moved up the street. He and his sons and a grandson successfully moved the 88-foot-long house about 950 feet up Main Street with the help of soap on the wheels.


“Happy,” was the word used by Pat Shearman, chairwoman of the Friends of the Gingerbread House, to describe the elation she and other members felt after more than two years of work to save the house from demolition.

For the second day in a row, more than 200 hundred people lined the northern side of Main Street early Friday morning to watch the three-story  home be moved to a site near the head of Pennesseewassee Stream.

By 8:30 a.m. Friday, the Merry crew was back in town continuing the painstaking work to ensure that the building, which is 17 feet wide in the rear and 29 feet wide in the front, could safely be pulled forward and onto the street.

Although earlier in the day it appeared that the move was going to go easily, the movers hit a slight hitch later in the afternoon when the wheels under the building came too near a granite walkway at the Matolcsy Arts Center. The problem required shifting the weight from the rear of the building forward to the front so the tanker retrieval vehicle pulling it could make the curve onto the street.

“It’s physics,” said Steve Merry laughing as he and his brothers Joshua and Jason and their father continued to put cribbing under the front wheels to shift the weight.

The crowd waited patiently throughout the day, cheering loudly each time the tanker was started up and the building moved a few feet, and gasping each time the building wobbled back and forth as it was being moved.


Just before midday, James Merry asked for the students from Oxford Middle School’s Builder’s Club to be called so they could ride in the tank retrieval vehicle as the house was pulled a few feet.

“We all locked arms,” said Baylee Heikkinen of West Paris as she and her classmates, Veronica Garey of Norway and Brenna Foster of Norway sat high up in the tanker and screamed as it lurched forward.

Foster was dressed in the club’s Gingerbread Man suit the club uses for fundraising for the building.

“I’m so glad I’m alive to see this happen,” said Mary Lou Onofrio, the great-grandniece of Fred Cummings, owner of the house in the early 1900s.

She said she recalled as a child visiting the house and how big it seemed.

“I was afraid I’d get lost in there and my mother wouldn’t find me,” she said.


Others watching were just as happy that the house was being saved.

“I love it that they’re saving it,” Darlene Bevans of Norway said.

Downtown Norway President Andrea Burns said Friends of the Gingerbread House has contracted to have a foundation put under the house.

Then, fundraising will continue as the group looks toward restoring it and deciding how it will be used.

Staff Writer Tony Reaves contributed to this report.

The video above was filmed by Erik Person of Oxford.

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