Center schoolhouse on the move
Lincolnville — A group of volunteers gathered at the site of the Lincolnville Center School house to begin the process of moving the 19th century building to its new site on the opposite side of Route 52.
The antique building will realize a new chapter. Now owned by the Lincolnville Historical Society, the building will house the fledgling Lincolnville Community Library. On Saturday, Oct. 27, volunteers will move the building using man power and ingenuity.
Lincolnville Boat Club purchased both the central school house and the neighboring old fire station garage buildings from the town in late fall 2011 after both structures sat unoccupied for approximately a year following the construction of the new Lincolnville Fire Station. The town sold the buildings and the property to the organization for $40,000. Though the Lincolnville Boat Club utilizes a shed area at the back of the former one-room school house — which closed in 1947 — the space has sat largely unused. Earlier this year the Lincolnville Boat Club offered the schoolhouse building to Lincolnville Historical Society with a unique catch — that it be moved directly across to the street to the town-owned property where Dean and Eugley service station used to sit.
On Oct. 8, representatives from Lincolnville Historical Society and Lincolnville Boat Club met at Whale's Tooth Pub for a closing of sorts. The boat club agreed to sell the school house building to the historical society for $1, and the deal was finalized with a toast. The following day, the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen agreed to lease the former Dean and Eugley site to the historical society for 20 years at no cost.
Through numerous fundraisers Lincolnville Historical Society President Diane O'Brien said volunteers raised more than $13,000 for the move and subsequent expenses. Viking and Rankin's Hardware have both donated materials including lumber and shingles.
O'Brien previously said the Dean and Eugley site received many evaluations by the Department of Environmental Protection and is considered usable — on the contingency no soil is disturbed on the contaminated site. She said a foundation will be poured atop the slab by mid-October. A telephone wire will also have to be raised; O'Brien said the present wire is 17 feet from the ground and the building is 26 feet tall. There is not enough slack in the line to maneuver underneath, she explained, so a taller phone poll is slated to be installed prior to the move. Additionally, Arborists Chris Gardiner and Bob Bateman donated their services to remove several trees impeding the project.
On Oct. 10, a group of about a dozen men and women were on the site of the school house, which weighs an estimated 25,000 pounds and measures 850 square feet. In preparation for the move the interior was braced with a crosshatching of lumber and a track, made of railroad ties, was created to aid in moving the building forward. Pipes placed beneath the building allowed it to slowly roll forward. O'Brien said the move was a test of sorts, a dry run in anticipation of the bigger journey.
As the group readied to attempt to move the building, Paul Cartwright was stationed at the rear of a Ford Ranger truck with a come-along tool attached to the rear trailer hitch. As Cartwright cranked the come-along — a hand-crank cable pulling device — others dispersed inside the building and began to push the walls and lumber braces. After a few false starts — and subsequent adjustments — the building began to move in steady increments, with a line of volunteers pushing from the back. Within about 30 minutes the school house and shed were separated.
O'Brien said the library committee will be responsible for designing the interior of the building. Lincolnville Historical Society members also envision utilizing a portion of the lot as an open air museum where larger historical artifacts such as antique farm implements might be displayed in three-walled sheds. The idea of adding raised gardens and native plantings has been discussed, plumbing logistics are also a topic of discussion.
O'Brien said the process will begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 27. Spectators are welcome and will be asked to observe from a "cordoned-off area," volunteers will be needed to pull the building, and they will sign a waver to participate. Though there could be easier means to move the structure, O'Brien said the effort is symbolic.
"We like the idea of pulling it," she explained. She noted that a video she saw of a barn moving in Nebraska during the 1980s was "the inspiration for this crazy idea."
O'Brien said the first order of business after today is fulfilling an obligation to secure the shed — once an auto paint shop and garage — as a contingency of the sale from the boat club. She said that work will likely happen with the next week or two, before the school house building is moved from the lot completely. Additionally a general contractor will be hired to oversee the work, though much of it will be executed by volunteers.
The move is just the beginning, O'Brien said. Renovations including flooring and restoring the historic facade are among major projects that she said could be completed before the snow flies. Additional fundraising will commence as well, she added.
"Ideally we'll get it onto the foundation that day," she said.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.