Maine Farmhouse Journal

Back to Maine Farmhouse page

Sebago Elementary portable classrooms have a new role serving youth

August 27, 2006

Sebago has moved two portable classrooms so they can begin new lives serving the youth and citizens of Sebago. The 20' x 30' portables were transferred to the Town of Sebago Friday. They had served Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) # 61 well for nearly 15 years or more at three different schools. The portables were no longer needed for classrooms now that the Sebago Elementary School has a new modular unit in place.

"We acquired these two portables from the Windham School District about 15 years ago," said Andy Madura, MSAD 61 Director of Transportation, Maintenance and Food Services. "They had been used in Windham as portable classrooms, and we moved them to Bridgton where they served the same purpose for about two years at Stevens Brook Elementary. From there they were used as portables at Crooked River Elementary for a couple of years, and finally to Sebago Elementary."

The two portables had been located out behind Sebago Elementary and had served different roles for a dozen years, including as classrooms, a guidance office, occupational therapy, and a music room. A new modular building was installed a few years ago, adding needed classrooms, a library, and offices to Sebago Elementary, and the need for the two portables declined. MSAD 61 decided that they were no longer needed in the school district, but since they were both sound and in good shape the Town of Sebago requested that the portables be transferred to the town. MSAD 61 agreed.

Future Uses of the Buildings

When it became known that the Town would be receiving the portables, three civic groups in Sebago stepped forward and requested them to use for their programs. The Sebago Youth Athletic Association (SYAA) requested one of the buildings to use as a combination snack shack and storage facility. They noted in their application that this would "not only benefit young athletes from Sebago, but ultimately the entire Sebago Lake - Long Lake region whereas the better the facility, the better athletic experience for all teams…"

Dana Watson (l) and his crew
hook up one of the portable
classrooms in preparation
for moving it to a new location.
Photo by Allen Crabtree

The Sebago Volunteer Association and Sebago Days Committee also requested one of the buildings. The Volunteer Association said "our organization is very interested in obtaining one of [the buildings] to replace the thirty year old buildings which we have been using during Sebago Days as food booths." They went on to say "Our Food booths at Sebago Days provide us with the funding we use to support the Sebago Fire Department and Rescue Department. Each year major donations to these groups are made as well as assisting with local tragedies. In addition we provide for a Christmas Party and Tree Lighting for Sebago families and award scholarships to aid students in their further education…"

The Sebago Days Committee said "We are in need of a building …to store games, prizes, operational supplies as well as a secure place for the raffle items…" They added "Any profits we make each year are used to better the Town Property…"

Kurt Christensen, a local builder, had inspected the two buildings and confirmed that they were in fairly sound condition. The Board of Selectmen met with the groups and agreed that the SYAA could use one of the two buildings, and the Volunteer Association and the Sebago Days Committee would share the other. The Town made arrangements with Dana Watson to move the two buildings to their new locations just across the field from the school onto town property.

Moving Day!

On Friday, August 25, 2006 Dana Watson and his crew arrived at the school grounds with trucks, heavy jacks, timber cribbing, and two long steel "I" beams. Watson and Son are building movers from Naples, and are very familiar with the two portables. "Dana moved them to Bridgton for us," said Madura. "He then moved them to Crooked River, and then to their present location at Sebago."

The 20' x 30' portables were a fairly easy challenge for Dana Watson, especially since he and his crew had moved them several times before, and since they would just be moving across a field and not on a public roadway. Moving a building on roads can be an expensive and challenging business, requiring road permits and dealing with overhead utility wires that the building can damage.

The first Sebago Elementary portable
classroom is hooked up and moved to a
new location across the field where
it will serve as a cook shack and storage
building for the Sebago Volunteer
Association and Sebago Days Committee
Photo by Allen Crabtree

"These buildings each weigh about 22,000 pounds," estimated Dana Watson. "We can move these without much trouble, if you know what you're doing!"

Watson has moved much larger and heavier buildings, and has steel I-beams 68 feet long for very large buildings. Cole Watson, Dana's son, told me that there are only about ten or twelve building movers in the state. It is difficult work, demanding specialized equipment to jack, transport, and place buildings.

"We will move 25 to 50 buildings in a typical year," Cole said. "We have moved a three-story building, and once jacked up a building so that a new ground floor could be added making it a two-story house."

Two long steel I-beams were pushed under the long axis of each building, and then the beams were jacked up and cribbed to raise the buildings off their blocks. Wheels were attached to the I-beams and the whole assembly was attached to Watson's truck and each building was moved to its new location. The whole operation took about 6 hours.

The Town will retain ownership of the buildings and would carry insurance for them, while entering into an agreement with the groups for them to use and maintain the buildings as well as insuring the contents.

The Sebago Volunteer Association opted to have their new building on the spot where their old cook shack had been located. Watson obligingly dragged the old building back to make room for the portable. They will renovate the new building to be ready for Sebago Days next July.

The SYAA has their building near their old snack shack, between the ball fields. They will use one half of their building for an expanded snack shack and will remove the old snack shack. The storage trailer at the back of the ball field will be removed and the other half of the new building will be used to store equipment, fertilizer and tools.

It is gratifying to know that these old portable classrooms have a new lease on life and will continue to serve the youth and citizens of the community for years to come.

Last updated August 27, 2006

Copyright © 2006, Allen Crabtree

Published in the Bridgton News