ABOVE Ryan Seavey and Casey Guise’s adventures in edible architecture have led them to recreate Disney World’s Haunted Mansion, England’s Highclere Castle, and their own Stockton Springs Italianate (below), complete with royal icing corbels and chimneys, candy-cane columns and trim, and a cupola crowned with a giant Hershey’s Kiss.
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
Nearly two years after closing on their 1847 Stockton Springs Italianate, the Belvedere, Ryan Seavey and Casey Guise are still deep into renovations. Its gingerbread counterpart, meanwhile, was completed after about 40 hours of late-night sessions, during which the couple recreated their home’s elegant corbels, columns, and namesake rooftop lookout with royal icing, candy canes, and an enormous Hershey’s Kiss. Inside, string lights illuminate windows festooned with vivid piped wreaths. “We put on Christmas music; we usually have a bottle of wine,” Guise says. “And we get in the zone and go for it.”
The couple has been crafting edible architecture since 2017, when they spent one of their first dates building a replica of Seavey’s former 1865 connected farmhouse in Brewer. Since then, they’ve created odes to Guise’s former 1900 Craftsman in Bangor; the Haunted Mansion at Disney World (with a melted Jolly Rancher “glass” conservatory); and Highclere Castle, of Downton Abbey fame, whose 24-inch-tall central tower collapsed twice before they figured out how to brace it until the icing set with — hot tip alert — soup cans stacked inside the structure. This year, they plan to construct the Queen Anne–inspired beauty from Seavey’s favorite movie, Practical Magic.
Their real-life house project features original kerosene chandeliers, elaborately carved woodwork, and an ornate cast-iron fireplace surround encased in reverse-painted Belgian glass. When they moved in, the place also had rotted framing, a crumbling roof, and the dropped ceilings, wall-to-wall carpeting, and faux paneling of, as Guise puts it, “a 1970s disaster.” Renovating it into their home and, they hope, a wedding venue, has been an exercise in determination, with Seavey handling most of the structural rehab and Guise tackling the finish work. Their approach to gingerbread is much the same. During their late nights together, Seavey assembles walls while Guise hunches over a cookie sheet piping tiny architectural details. When disaster strikes, like the time one of their four Lab mixes devoured a sheet of corbels, “we stress-eat scraps of gingerbread,” Seavey says.
But for the most part, the couple sees their holiday tradition as fun, even edifying. Take the Belvedere’s original third chimney. It hasn’t yet been restored in the real world, but, last Christmas, there it was, in red-and-white icing, flanking the home’s pointy cupola. “There’s still so much work to restore and renovate this house,” Guise says. “One day, it will look like the gingerbread version.”