WAHOO – Casey and Victoria Gaughan sat on the foundation walls, watching with anticipation as their future house slowly moved up the street towards its new location.
A small crowd had also gathered on April 14 to watch the five-bedroom home inch its way up West 10th Street, as tree limbs were cut down to fit the wide structure through the narrow residential street.
The historic structure was formerly a rectory at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Plasi, an unincorporated area near Prague. Many parishioners watched as the house left the church grounds and made its way through Prague towards Wahoo.
The rectory was built in 1952 when the parish decided their priest needed a new home. It had five bedrooms so the parish could host other priests as well, according to Dennis Fujan, a longtime member of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
The last priest, Fr. John Pastorak, retired in 1973 and the church became a mission parish of St. John’s in Prague. From then on, the rectory was rented out.
Fujan said the parish struggled with irresponsible renters over the years, and the finances were not available to update the home. So they chose to remove the rectory rather than fix it up and continue to offer it for rent.
“We felt like it would cost us about $30,000 or so to fix the house up to be a desirable rental property,” he said.
Casey and Victoria had been planning to move back to Wahoo from rural Fremont but were running into issues buying or building in the area. Houses in Wahoo sell quickly and for high prices, Casey said.
“It’s hard to get a foot in and an offer in before it sells,” he said.
The rectory was advertised for sale in the Wahoo Newspaper. That is how Casey came to hear about it. The concept of purchasing the rectory and moving it into Wahoo sounded plausible to him.
“Me with my crazy ideas thought, what a good opportunity to get something perfect for us,” Casey said.
Victoria’s family has close ties to the Plasi church. Her father, Gary Kremlacek, and his siblings were members of the parish and attended catechism in the rectory. Her aunts and uncles have begun sharing memories of the rectory, including the snakes in the basement that they were not allowed to kill because the priest believed all creatures had a right to live, Victoria said.
Buying the house brought Victoria to the cemetery, located next to the rectory. There, several family members are laid to rest, including her grandparents.
Victoria said her family ties to the rectory make this project even more special.
“It feels right and feels good that it’s a part of my family but also to be a part of the history of Saunders County,” she said.
Since word got out that the rectory was being moved, many people have approached Casey and Victoria with their memories of the building. One woman told Victoria that she signed her marriage certificate in the rectory.
The Gaughan’s new neighbors, Jennifer and Chris Bordovsky, also have ties to the rectory. Jennifer grew up in Prague and attended services at the Plasi church on occasion. They now live just a few lots away from the rectory’s new location.
“It’s exciting to know that we’ll finally have neighbors,” she said as she watched the house move up West 10th Street.
The neighborhood will be full of children when the Gaughans finally move in. The Bordovsky clan has five kids, and Casey and Victoria have two children, Gentry, age 7, and Leo, who will be two years old in July.
Getting back to Wahoo has been a mission for Casey and Victoria for some time. The couple had lived in the community after getting married, but moved to the Fremont area because of their jobs.
Their daughter Gentry was born with a hearing deficiency. Casey said they felt she would receive a better education at Wahoo Public Schools.
“We want to move back for her schooling,” he added.
Their quest to build a new home or buy an existing one hit roadblocks until the rectory was offered for sale. They purchased the house in July, and then set out finding a place to put the structure.
Casey said they looked at lots in a subdivision on the outskirts of Wahoo, but the house didn’t fit the style required by the covenants. They put an offer on a lot near the high school but found out it was under contract.
Frustrated, Casey and Victoria drove around Wahoo trying to find a spot for their home. His brother-in-law, Jacob Pokorny, suggested the area where the hospital formerly was located.
To prepare the house for relocation, Casey and Victoria had work to do. Casey removed the chimney by cutting a hole in the roof and dropping it four levels. Two porches, one on the front and one on the back, were torn off the structure.
Casey took out two heavy, cast iron bathtubs and the old furnace. All appliances were removed and they also took out a few walls to prepare for renovation. Preparations also had to be made for the moving day. Casey contacted the City of Wahoo and the utilities that would need to be relocated along the route.
There were some headaches, including one utility that held out permission until the last minute, along with obstacles like high winds, rain and a grass fire.
That all helped add to the stress Casey and Victoria felt on the day of the move.
“I felt mentally, emotionally drained,” said Casey. “We worked so long, so to see it as it happened, it was just incredible.”
However, the work is not over. The Gaughans have hired Buckmaster Construction to do the major work, while they will pitch in with things like painting and sanding.
The remodel will include a brand new kitchen that opens up into the living room. New French doors will lead to the back yard. The bathrooms will also be entirely new when the house is finished, hopefully in October, Casey said.
Although the house has a lot of history, there really isn’t much to salvage as far as the renovation goes. Casey said renters had caused damage and the interiors were very basic to begin with. They will keep and refinish the floors, however.
Casey kept a few bricks from the chimney and used some wood from the front porch to make a shelf for Victoria.
They are blessed that the home has “good bones,” as they say on home renovations shows.
“The frame, the structure of the house, is solid as a rock,” said Fujan.
Casey saw the potential right away.
“The size, knowing what we could make it, was really what sold us on the house,” he said.
Before the rectory left Sts. Cyril and Methodius to start the trip to Wahoo, the priest blessed it, giving it a good start on its new journey to becoming a home for a growing family.