SKOWHEGAN — This old house is on the move.

A 14-room Victorian home, built in 1850 at the corner of Coburn Avenue and Pleasant Street in Skowhegan, is being taken apart, piece by numbered piece, to be reassembled in Cape Elizabeth.

Chris Chase of Chase Building Movers of Wells said the dismantling will be done in stages over the next three weeks, and the house will be put back together on a lot in Cape Elizabeth a month or so later.

Andy Bowman and his wife, Rachel Lomas, of Austin, Texas, purchased the 166-year-old house in August from the previous owner, Joy Hikel, who acquired it in 1995.

While moving an antique home is not a new idea, dismantling a whole house and moving it to be reassembled elsewhere is uncommon, according to Chris Lynch at Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Portland.

Such a move shows real passion, he said.

“It’s pretty rare that you see a house that is disassembled and then reassembled,” Lynch said Monday. “I would say it’s more common to see a house that is not disassembled, but is actually a house that is lifted off of its foundation, placed on a transportation system of some type and relocated, typically nearby.”

Bowman, 48, who has worked in solar and wind power and renewable energy for the past 20 years and currently is writing a book on the subject, said he and his wife saw the house listed for sale on the Internet and began to make inquiries. They liked what they saw. When they visited Skowhegan, they decided it was going to be less expensive to move an old house the 100 miles south than it would be to build a new one.

“We found it like a lot of people do, I guess. It had been for sale for some time and we saw it listed,” Bowman said by phone Monday afternoon. “We loved the way it looks. My wife and I both grew up in old houses, and we really liked it.”

Bowman said his father was born in Portland, and his grandmother lived at nearby Higgins Beach, where he spent summers growing up and more recently spending time there with his children.

Lynch at Legacy Properties said the buyers clearly feel something special about the place.

“There’s something very special about antique homes for antique home lovers,” Lynch said. “They want to live in a home that was constructed by different kinds of craftsmen in a different period of time with the unique moldings and the wood and the quality of the construction. Hand-done everything is very special.

“It is unusual to have that kind of activity, but it doesn’t surprise me. It sounds like the buyer must be very passionate about this particular home, and Cape Elizabeth has so many beautiful lots with access to the ocean. You take a beautiful home in one part of the state and move it to another beautiful part of the state is a good idea. Very passionate.”

Bowman said he and his wife and their three children ages 11, 14 and 18 love Maine and look forward to spending time in their “new” house.

The 14-room house has three bedrooms, three baths, hardwood flooring, plaster walls and a pre-Civil War wrap-around porch and is valued for taxation at $192,800, according to town assessing records. The original clapboard siding and shingled roof were visible Monday as some of the newer work was peeled away and ready for secure transport by flatbed truck.

The house is to be moved in six or eight pieces, starting with the top floor of the two-story house, which will be cut and lifted by crane onto a truck, Chris Chase of the moving company said at the job site.

“We’re going to disassemble the top half and then move the bottom half in three pieces,” Chase said Monday from the seat of a skid steer. “The house is in pretty good shape.”

Chase said Bowman and his wife like the house with its ornate architecture and fancy molding and trim work, the wide windows and doors, grand staircase, chandeliers and oak mantel fire place. At the house Monday, Colin Sevigney of Chase Building Movers held up two intricate trim brackets called corbels.

“It’s going to be rebuilt exactly like you see it,” Chase said.

The earliest reference to the house at 10 Coburn Ave. in real estate transfers at the Somerset County Registry of Deeds is from the early 1850s, when members of the large Philbrick family owned it. The house is among the oldest in that part of Skowhegan with the two-story brick Skowhegan History House, built in 1839, within view.

Jill Huard at Century 21 Surette Real Estate in Waterville and president of the Kennebec Valley Board of Realtors said she has also heard of older homes being jacked up and moved by truck a short distance, but not the way they are doing it in Skowhegan.

“That is quite unusual, very unusual for this area, but it’s not unheard of,” Huard said. “If someone loves a home so much that they want to take it with them or put it in a location that’s suitable for them, it must have some very unique characteristics or be a very beautiful home.”

Chase said the newer aluminum siding will be removed and the original siding will be scraped and painted like new. All of the old windows and granite foundation will go with the house to Cape Elizabeth.

Peter Knoth, a restoration carpenter from Portland, will replace every piece of wood just as it was when the house was built along Skowhegan’s shore of the Kennebec River.

“You’ve got to be happy that instead of somebody coming in and buying the lot and bulldozing the house, they’re actually going to keep the house,” Chase said.

Bowman said he realizes it is unusual to be moving the house — fancy trim and all — in pieces to a new location 100 miles away, but it gives his family what they were hoping to find — an antique house to live in in Maine.

“We have three kids and everybody loves Maine,” he said. “We intend to make a winter-proof house so I could definitely see spending more time in Maine in the summer and during holidays, and it’s just a beautiful, fabulous old house with a lot of the original character. We’re just so excited to be able to live in a house like that.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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