Old Groton creamery milks day in the spotlight

Don Eastman, right, and Ray Barnes of Eastman Building Movers/Riggers, located in West Greenwich, R.I., on Monday prepare the creamery building to be placed on a new foundation in a different location on the grounds of the Fairview in Groton. The building is being moved for the Thames Edge project.

Groton - Crews moved a 122-year-old creamery on Monday, lifting the structure onto a trailer and driving it 60 feet to make room for a new development at a well-known nursing home in Groton.

Fairview the Odd Fellows Home of Connecticut is building 23 houses, a clubhouse and an access road as part of a plan to create a new retirement community along the Thames River. The creamery was in the way.

James Rosenman, chief executive officer, said the creamery's been on the property since at least 1892, when the Order of Odd Fellows Grand Lodge founded Fairview as a nonprofit.

The creamery stored milk served to people living at the nursing home and, until the 1970s, cows and a prized bull remained on the property.

"It really was farm to table," Rosenman said.

Saving the 16-by-20-foot building took time, planning and effort. Crews began working two weeks ago on the move, said Terry J. Terragna, project manager for Farmington-based KBE Building Corp.

First they cut pockets into the brick and stone foundation and slid steel beams underneath, in crisscross fashion. Next, they reinforced the wood edges and asked a structural engineer to check the building's stability.

Finally, they raised it off its foundation, lifting the steel beams at the same time, holding the structure up with new wood beams.

Finally, workers rolled the creamery onto a trailer. They drove the building on Monday to its new home near a barn on the property. They'll attach it to the new concrete foundation Wednesday.

"It looks like an antique building, but it's mostly in pretty good shape," Terragna said.

Rosenman said moving and restoring the structure would cost about $30,000, but Fairview "chose to invest to preserve and protect it."

The Odd Fellows Home property covers 70 acres along the Thames River across from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Fairview is known mostly for its 120-bed skilled nursing facility, but also has a building with 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments and a cottage with four apartments for people living independently.

The new development would expand this into a campus of single-family homes, where seniors can buy into the community, live in a house and receive care in that house if they need it, and obtain care in the nursing facility if they need that.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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