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Old Houses, New Homes

Funkytown, USA
I normally keep my posts in the hat threads, and those over there know me a bit better, but Hi - I'm Frunobulax and I want to share my experience with all of you. I live in an historic neighborhood near Downtown Dayton, OH. I've owned my money pit - er, home - since 1992. It was built in 1896. Yesterday, our neighborhood association, through their associated community development corporation, saw much of their efforts for preservation of two homes culminate in them being moved about 3 blocks, from their historical locations to locations also in our historic district.

Both homes were located on land now owned by the Masonic Temple of Dayton, one of the anchor institutions in our neighborhood (along with the Dayton Art Institute, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the nearby Grandview Hospital). The Masons wanted to put a new parking lot and side entrance to their facility to improve the kitchen service, so our CDC negotiated with them to rescue the houses. After an 18 month process, the houses were moved yesterday. I thought I'd share some photographs of a fairly unusual occurrence - houses trundling down a residential street on their way to a new home. Our neighborhood had previously moved another house, about two years prior to my moving there. I missed that one. I wasn't going to miss this one, so I played hooky from work.

Photos follow.
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Funkytown, USA
9:00 AM. The houses, which were removed from their original foundations last week and put on "trailers" for their move, have arrived at the first turn. For reference, the map below shows where the houses were, their route, and where they are now located.



One house is immediately behind the other. They are moved independently and are self-propelled. Each wheel unit turns individually, and it's operated by a remote unit. So the guy "driving" the house walked alongside it, steering.

Obviously, the utility companies, tree trimmers, city maintenance, and police were on-hand to assist.
Interestingly, I was told that the officer in the photo worked the detail at the last house move, when he was a rookie.
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Funkytown, USA
A better look at both houses going from Grafton to Plymouth.

Turning the second corner, from Plymouth to Central.

Too close!
The lighting unit was removed, and later the pole, to get the house through.
Additionally, many trees along the street were unfortunately cut back to make way for the houses.

The move took from ~8:30 until about 3PM. I bailed about 2:30 to get into the office to get something done. By the time I got home, they were safely ensconced in their new locations, awaiting foundations, footers, and basements (and a little landscaping).


Despite the rain and cold, a good time was had by all. The neighborhood association provided coffee, donuts, hot dogs, chips and drinks to those that came out. We all stood around and solved all of the neighborhood's problems, of course. I had seen this many times on TV, or through photos, but this is the first time I was ever able to see it in person. It was very impressive seeing a house go down the street!

And this is the lady who sold me my house when she was a bank loan officer. She lives a couple of doors from me and has been in the 'hood since at least the '40s, when she went to the school at the end of my street.

Thanks, everybody, for letting me share. Hope you enjoyed it.


A-List Customer
460 Laverne Terrace
Wow! History on the move. I still hope to own an old house someday. Came close a few times, but eventually settled on one built in 1981. My daughter and her family know have my home, so I'm on a quest for my dream home again :)

fashion frank

One Too Many
Woonsocket Rhode Island
Have seen that done a few times and it always still amazes me how they do it ! Glad to see they didn't get taken out by a wreaking ball!
Every city and town always needs to do this because once there gone there gone and new dwellings today suck , thrown up as fast and as cheaply as possible . Living here on the east coast and in an "older " part of the country ,we have so many beautiful Victorian and Queen Anne style homes and mansions that it's a treat just to walk and or even drive thru quaint New England villages and towns and marvel at the homes and craftsmen ship that went into building them . Thanks for sharing ! All the Best , Fashion Frank
Funkytown, USA
Bummer! I would think it would take some kind of toll. Particularly the brick one, I'd be inspecting the mortar after the move for cracks, etc. It would be interesting to get inside one and look at the plaster for cracks, etc. If I get a chance to invade one soon, I'll check and update with pics.
Pasadena, CA
Great post! We live in - and created - an historical district here in Pasadena 16 years ago. It literally saved the homes from the City's plans to put in bloody condos, etc.
Wife had one of the big developers threaten her life on the steps of City Hall, which resulted in our home/phones being on the police hot-list for any calls that came in. It thwarted mega-buck plans here and we're now enjoying the fruits of that effort.
A "Greene and Greene" home was moved next to us - @HoosierDaddy - it was cut into three pieces, and it's a big house.
Put back together, and it's solid as a rock. Although it did ruin our view of the local mountains - always something...

It's great to see more of this happening. Younger kids (my son's age ~22) are really into this sort of thing too. There's hope for the future...
Thanks for posting this up.


I'll Lock Up
New Forest
Have seen that done a few times and it always still amazes me how they do it ! Glad to see they didn't get taken out by a wreaking ball!
Every city and town always needs to do this because once there gone there gone and new dwellings today suck.
When the Victorians were building our railways, no expense was spared on the lavish London termini. In the 1960's Euston Station had it's beautiful archway demolished, all for the sake of modernity. Here's a picture of Euston Arch, along with a potted history of the station, and a computer generated picture of how the arch would look today.
But at least the decimation of Euston's Arch served as a reminder that Londoners do not like planners riding roughshod over the choice of how our city should look. For years, planners wanted to demolish completely, another of London's termini, namely St. Pancras but instead of being torn down, it now stands as the terminus of the international line to mainland Europe, the one that runs through the channel tunnel. And how magnificent the old blends in with the new.


I'll Lock Up
My mother's basement
I've always wondered how moving an older home like this effects the basic structure of the home. Surely can't be good for the old walls and other parts of the old home.

I've happened upon a couple of house moves in recent decades -- both in Seattle, and both at night, when there is less vehicular traffic to disrupt.

And I've had very similar thoughts as to how well these structures survive the move. Obviously, the shorter the distance the lower the risk.

When at a local paper I did a little feature on a new elementary school building on the site of one that that had been there for nearly a century. After the story ran an elderly woman called to tell me that her parents had farmed on that land, before the original school was built, and well before she was born. She had a photo of her folks on the front porch of the house, which was later moved a block or so away when the land on which it was located was sold to the school district. The house is still there, in its "new" location.

I took a copy of the photo and related the story to the then-current owner of the house (this was nearly 20 years ago now). She had no idea her home was moved from its original site. I gave her the old gal's contact information and let it all go from there. I suspected the old gal knew she was approaching the end and hoped to see the old house one last time.

Moving a house from one rural location to another nearby rural location is much less involved and costly than moving a house from one urban location to another, for obvious reasons. In the Fremont district of Seattle is a structure that has been moved twice, the first time more than a century ago and the second time about 20 years ago. The more recent move was one city block. Photos of the original move show it being done with draft horses.

A friend in Seattle sold his house to a party who cut it into thirds and then had it transported down to the docks and then placed on barges for a short trip across the Sound to Bainbridge Island. This was about a dozen years ago. The house was (is) a distinctive modernist structure, and its characteristics apparently made it economically feasible to go to such lengths to move it. The land on which it sat was redeveloped.

I recall another incident of a young couple putting a basement under a house that hadn't had one. The house fell on them. Yes, they were killed.