WESTPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — After almost two years of controversy the Historic Kemper Gunn House is moving on November 18th and will be relocated to town owned property where it will be restored and reused.
“It’s been a long haul, but well worth it,” said WWCC Executive Director Matthew Mandell, who as a Representative Town Meeting Member was one of the leaders and initiators of the concept of relocation. “It is not every day a Town gets to save an almost two hundred year old house and also watch it roll across a street. We’re offering coffee and baked goods, people are invited to come down to celebrate and watch the big event.”
The 1885 built Queen Anne Victorian house stood in the way of a major redevelopment project known as Bedford Square. With relocation or reuse on site not being considered by the developers, they and preservationists were at odds. But with some concerted brain storming the concept of moving the house across the street to Town owned property became a joint project, a public private partnership.
Hopes for the move were cut short six months later when the Planning and Zoning commission, in the face of strong support, voted to deny the use of Town land for the relocation. That decision was appealed under State and Town law to the Representative Town Meeting (town legislature) where in a rare and decisive move voted unanimously to reverse P&Z action and approve the move.
“My partners and I are so pleased to see the house being moved to its new location,” said David Waldman principle of Bedford Square LLC and DC Kemper Gunn LLC winning bidder who will restore the house. “Clearly this marks the beginning of our Bedford Square project, which has been 8 years in the making. A lot of hard work went into saving the house. Without the dedication of a group of passionate preservationists and historians, which eventually turned into an entire town, this house would have not survived.”
The building is a two and one-half story, four bay wide, wood framed Queen Anne style house. The house was built in 1885 by Frederick Kemper. He became First Selectman in 1904. It is a good example of a style of house built after the Civil War, in an era of increasing industrialization and prosperity in America.