Moving Old John's House
This is a web page showing the difficult moving of a house that will end up in our back yard. As with most web pages you can click on the thumbnail pictures to enlarge them; in fact a second click will double enlarge them.
When Judy and I bought our house on Idaho Street in 91' we knew that at some time in the future the open vacant lots behind our house would be used for new construction. The only thing that prevented that from happening was that the owners were two old bachelors who had lived in the main house since 1933. Around 1998, James, the younger brother died. Up until then the two brothers kept busy tending to their gardens which essentially were sited on two city lots and facing our backyard. When their parents bought the house it was sitting in the center of two lots with a third lot running in the opposite direction at the end of the main lots and facing our backyard. Essentially we have enjoyed the free space of about 2 city lots facing our backyard for all of these years. Several years ago old John died and left the house to distant relatives who had to be searched for to find. They have now sold the house and lot to a developer who is going to move the house down to the third lot and build new houses on the two lots where the house presently is.
I tried to make friends with old John but he was a true hermit. He actually hissed at my neighbors who tried to talk to him. Judy made Christmas treats for him but he would never answer the door. A really strange situation. I saw him in the same dirty clothes every time I ever saw him. I did one day get to talk to him briefly at which time he told me a little about himself.
The intriguing thing is trying to figure out just how they are going to move the house since it sits about 35' higher than it's new location which will be on the level of our back yard. The following pictures are leading up to the actual move which will now be soon (April 07'). The house was obviously built somewhere before the turn of the last century. It is in perfect condition and is all original, just the way it was when it was new.
This first set of pictures show the house and view it has had. You can see the steepness of the road it faces. When it snows here that road is officially closed and used for skiers, snowboarder, and kids on sleds.
This last picture shows our house looking down from John's.
The following pictures show the steps that have been taken this winter to get the house ready to move.
In order to locate the house essentially in our backyard, it has been necessary to remove a ton of dirt. I estimate that over 100 truck loads were removed in order for the house to have a full basement.
Since they have dug right up to the property line I wouldn't be surprised to see a cave-in. Our apple tree is sitting right at the edge.
The only way I can see to move the house is to put it on rails and slide it out a ways and then lower it, and then keep repeating the process. Easily said but it is going to be a real trick to do so.
Actually today my surmise is proven correct. They first put steel girders under key points of the house's beams. Then they put steel girders in the opposite direction. Today (3/30/07) they put long steel girders again in the opposite direction and I can see some plates I will call "sliders" on the girders. So somehow they will drag of push the house out on the rails. Fine, but I still have to see how they keep it balanced. And then how to delicately lower the house. All that will be coming soon.
The time has come to do the actual moving. It happens at such a slow pace that it is hard to see any change, except when looking at the beginning and the end.
The house has now made it's trip down the hill and to the edge of the lot. The next move is to change the direction of the slider rails and then push it over almost to my backyard. Sort of like a chess move. The third picture shows to jacks supporting the house (6 of them). The last pictures are taken from the other side of the house facing the street one block over.
Looking down at my house from where the original house sat.
The following pictures are looking from my backyard at the house as it gets moved into it's final resting place.
There has been a week's delay in making the final move, but it has been done. It looks like the house is now sitting about 12 or more feet above the dirt floor. A 6' man can walk under the 2x10's that are jutting out from the cribs in the 4th picture. In the last picture the crew is making finite adjustments for the exact location of the corners of the house. The next phase will be setting the forms and pouring the foundation. It is uglier than I had expected. Today's date is 4/23/07.
The moving company has been busy moving a large old downtown house called the "Ladd House" so not much has happened on Old John's house since except for pouring the foundation.
To see Moving Old John- Phase 2 Click Here
My other web pages mainly Flying Stories: Banner Bob's Home