In the 1940s, as the United States plunged into World War II, boatbuilder Erford Burt found himself with some time on his hands. Famed for his Vineyard Haven 15 sailboats, Mr. Burt’s business had mostly paused as recreational activity on the water shut down during wartime.

And so, ever the craftsman, Mr. Burt took to a dry land project. Piece by piece, he deconstructed the hurricane-damaged, circa-1848 North Tisbury Baptist church, reconstructing it as a workshop on Lagoon Pond Road in Vineyard Haven.

There it has stood for the last seven decades — until last Friday when the building began another journey, transported not as lumber but in one whole piece, to a new home just down the road. The move was part of an effort spearheaded by Island developer Jefrey DuBard to preserve and restore the historic building.

Steady as she goes. — Chris Scott

“It was wonderful to see everyone accomplish something together,” Mr. DuBard said, crediting Hayden Building Movers, the Tisbury public works department and the former building owners at Safe Harbor Marina for their roles in the process.

“It’s just amazing to be able to save the building and ultimately tell the stories of the shoulders we stand on,” he said.

Mr. DuBard said he has not yet determined what the building will be used for, but that “I have every intention of it being a community resource.”

Mr. Burt’s boatyard has changed hands several times since he occupied the space, first going to his son Henry O. Burt and his business partner Henry R. Fauteaux in 1967, before Robert Maciel bought and renamed it Maciel Marine in 1985.

The boatyard became Martha’s Vineyard Marina in 2013 after being sold to George Rogers and Sheryl Roth, before being bought by Miami-based Prime Marina in 2016. In 2021, it was purchased by the Dallas-based Safe Harbor Marina.

Safe Harbor general manager Chris Scott, who started at the marina in 2017, said they have long been searching for a use for the building, first considering a restaurant or staff housing before running into problems with town zoning. Last year, they went to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission with plans to demolish the building to make space for new boat storage racks.

“During MVC review, Jeff DuBard came to the first meeting we had where someone said, ‘that thing has a lot of history to it,’ and Jeff was like ‘I want it,’” Mr. Scott said.

Mr. DuBard, who grew up sailing on the Cape and now owns a Vineyard Haven 15, said the name Erford Burt immediately piqued his interest.

“There was a little, you know, if you build it, they will come,” he said “I didn’t have a place to put it . . . but I said ‘I am determined to find one.’”

He initially considered moving the building to Beach Road, before acquiring a plot on the Lagoon.

Since the building lacks a traditional foundation, instead perched on a series of wooden piers, it was a perfect candidate for a building move.

“They came in with our structural steel underneath it to support it, and then . . . sliced the piers,” Mr. DuBard said.

Although the building was easy to raise, navigating it down a narrow stretch of road, then onto the small plot of land that Mr. DuBard owns at 51 Lagoon Pond Road, was a much greater challenge. It was organized by Hayden Building Movers.

“They are like magicians,” Mr. DuBard said and Mr. Scott agreed, noting how owner Bob Hayden was able to navigate the building around a series of obstacles, even transporting the building over a fire hydrant without damaging it.

“That’s how tight it was,” Mr. Scott said. “It didn’t hit the pole or the light. He’s a master of his craft.”

The move also had to be delayed about a month, after town officials raised several questions about the project. In August, the town building inspector halted the process and requested a building permit. Ultimately, Mr. DuBard said, the select board decided a building permit was not required to move an existing structure.

Town public works director Kirk Metell had also raised concerns after a contractor inadvertently cut town-owned vegetation near Mr. DuBard’s lot. In an interview with the Gazette, Mr. Metell said they have since resolved the issue, and the parties have agreed to plant new hedges.

Now that the building is moved, said Mr. DuBard, the work is not over. The building will have to be situated on new piers towards the back of the lot. Once in its proper place, historic restoration work on the exterior will begin.

“That’s the stuff that I love,” Mr. DuBard said, of the restoration. “So much of it is ‘How did it live and breathe? What happened here? What was the spirit, and the energy that this place held?’”