Assabet’s tiny house finds its home in Maine


By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer

Assabet’s tiny house finds its home in Maine
Assabet students get hands-on experience working on all facets of the tiny house.

MarlboroughFour years ago, a concept for a tiny house was sketched on a napkin and a partnership was formed. The Downeast Community Partners, Maine Seacoast Mission, the CF Adams Foundation, and Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School joined together to construct a tiny house inside the footprint of the school’s House Carpentry program and then move it 300 miles to its foundation in Milbridge, Maine. 

The project was on schedule until the school was closed in March due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the septic system had been installed, the well drilled, and the concrete foundation poured, and all was ready at the Maine site. Bill Italiano, the House Carpentry instructor at Assabet, requested permission to go back in the building during his summer vacation with a few volunteers, and the tiny house was finished enough to shrink wrap it in preparation for shipment. 

There was no room for error in removing the 560-square-foot, 14’ x 40’ x 12’ structure from the school building with barely inches to spare. With the help of Latour and Sons Trucking, who donated their services, it was slowly and carefully rolled out of the building and lifted by crane to a waiting flatbed. Scott Shaw, Maine Seacoast Mission’s Housing rehabilitation manager, drove a box truck full of appliances while members of the Assabet staff trailed in another vehicle, and the small caravan was on its way. 

Assabet’s tiny house finds its home in Maine
A huge crane was required to lift the tiny house made in Assabet’s House Carpentry program onto a flatbed for its final destination, Milbridge, Maine.

Massachusetts State Police provided an escort to the border where New Hampshire State Police picked it up, and the final journey over back roads was led by Maine State Police. 

“It was quite the sight,” Shaw said. “One of our funders lives in Kennebunkport and she watched us go by, honking our horns, from the overpass.” 

Russ Mangsen retired as Assabet’s director of technical programs in June but made the trip to Maine with the tiny house. 

“Billy’s (Italiano) commitment to this project from start to finish was nothing short of amazing,” he remarked. “We had over 200 students actively working on this project at one point in time or another. Our House Carpentry, Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, and Metal Fabrication programs all lent a hand, and the biotechnology students had the tough job of researching the materials used.”

The home was built for a young disabled veteran who has a severe allergy to corn products, and knowing that some adhesives, abrasives, insulation, solvents, and even paper contain corn byproducts, students called the manufacturers of materials being used to verify they were corn-free. 

While the homeowner has not yet moved in, he is heavily involved, Shaw explained. 

“We are hoping that by the end of the month, or soon after, he will be able to move in,” he said. “The heat pump and wood stove are ready to go in, the bathroom shower and tile work is being done. A lot of what the Assabet students would have finished had to be done here now, because of the pandemic shutdown.”

There will be a debriefing when the project is completed to talk about future ventures. 

“I envision a tiny house community with shared wells and septic systems, maybe a nice common area. That’s the dream!” Shaw said.” It will be quite the day when [the homeowner] is handed the keys. I wish the kids could be here on that day, but it would all depend on the virus. I just know I am thankful for partnerships!” 



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