Wellesley High School reimagined as a spectacular gingerbread house

When the current Wellesley High School opened 11 years ago, much thought was put into incorporating historical elements from the 1938 building, focusing on sustainability, and using an open design to accommodate different learning styles. However, there was precious little talk of including gum drops, candy canes, licorice, marshmallows, or other sweets in the design.

Wellesley resident Grant Brown, plus his family and friends, have addressed that oversight by creating a candy-adorned gingerbread replica of the building and displaying it in the school’s foyer—where staff can keep an eye on it.

Brown and crew, who have been building elaborate gingerbread models for some 20 years as a holiday tradition, decided on cloning Wellesley High this time in honor of Brown’s daughter Gwendolyn being a senior.

gingerbread high school
Gwendolyn and Grant Brown with their family & friends’ gingerbread replica of Wellesley High School


Grant and Gwendolyn delivered the replica to the school on Wednesday morning without fanfare. Initially it looked as though they might need to bring the hefty gingerbread creation, mounted on a 3 foot by 4 foot board, in through the loading dock. But the school’s quick-thinking team figured out a way to temporarily remove a vertical bar between the front doors to allow for safe passage.

Brown said the plan for the model began with great satellite images from Google Earth, and then he went around the school and took photos of his own.

Work on the project started before Thanksgiving. Brown said he makes gingerbread and rolls it out according to templates, which are fitted around an internal structure to keep the finished product sturdy. Seven bags of marshmallows were used for the roof and other elements. Much of the model’s decorative exterior is then the product of collaboration between family and friends, some of whom sign their work using candy. (We’ve been warned in the past that you shouldn’t succumb to the temptation to eat any of the house, as some candy may be well past its due date.)

“It always smells good in the house for a couple of weeks,” Gwendolyn said.

gingerbread high school

This was the first grand production in a couple of years due to the pandemic.

The Browns have built replicas in the past of both Sprague Elementary School and Wellesley Middle School to mark the passage of their kids through the school system. They’ve also chosen eye-catching structures, such as the Parthenon and Tower Bridge, seen on family trips.

Their creations have been displayed in the past at Wellesley Free Library, but the high school seemed a more appropriate location for this year’s work so that staff and students can enjoy it.

The new attraction immediately awed the first few people to see it on Wednesday morning. Principal Jamie Chisum’s assistant John Malone marveled: “Impressive! The more I look, the more details I find.”

He noted that there’s been a lot of gingerbread action at the school of late, with advisory classes each working on and displaying their creations recently.

gingerbread high school
Brown, equipped with a repair kit, did some touching up on site


wellesley high jan 2023 winter
Sugar-free exterior of the actual Wellesley High School building