Sunday, October 02, 2011

Moving House!

Last year, on October 1st, I moved to a new house. It was sooo stressful! I had lived in the same apartment for about five years and had accumulated so much stuff, it was a nightmare packing up and figuring out what to keep and what to donate or throw away. Don't we all wish that instead of just moving we could have the house MOVE with us?  If you have seen this movie, I know you understand what I mean:

Pixar's "UP"

Though the idea of moving a house sounds fantastical, it isn't. In fact housemoving is a profession that is hundreds of years old. Chances are, a house near you or in your town or state (or Country, even!) has been moved from one place to another.

 Last year while deep in the research stage for “A train for Halifax,” I wrote a draft of  a story called, “When Molly Strauss Moved House.” The story is about an eccentric young woman who lives in a CRAZY AMAZING Victorian house, and like so many historic homes throughout history, is being threatened to be destroyed. (her house sits where a bridge needs to connect the island from the mainland)  Her neighbors think she is simply going to move out, but on the day of demolition, she throws a HUGE party.  As they scarf down cake, and balk about why she hasn't even packed a thing, workers and horses show up and her house is slowly dragged into a new location (to the initial horror and delight of her neighbors!)

(“House Moving Day” Winfield, Kansas circa 1870’s)

I have a long fascination with housemoving. My first encounter was when I worked as a costumed interpreter for  Old Sturbridge Village. Sturbridge is a recreated village in Massachusetts set in the 1830’s. All the homes in this “village,” are from different parts of New England and were at one point moved to the museum site. One of the buildings I worked at, the Meetinghouse, was moved from Sturbridge to Fiskdale in 1838.


It’s a tall and stately church, but to move it, it was cut in half, and dragged down the street by oxen. When I learned this, I was amazed. I had never heard of such a big structure being moved like this.

My second encounter was through spending summers with family on Cape Cod. My grandfather explained to my why some of the houses in Provincetown displayed a little tile of a house floating on a boat.

The tiles are to commemorate that they were floated on skiffs over the water from Long Point (the very tip of Cape Cod) to where they currently sit. Provincetown was originally settled on the very tip of the cape, back when cod fishing and salt mills were productive, but once the fishing of cod began to slow down, the villagers got tired of living on the very isolated and unprotected part of land and decided to float across to a safer shore.

Up Next on Bonnie's Blog: This month I am going to start working on the design and script of the story. I hope to start storyboarding it by the end of the month. This week I will be facing the challenge of creating the ULTIMATE CRAZY LADY VICTORIAN HOUSE. (fun, fun fun!)

In the meantime, here are some CRAZY house moves for your viewing pleasure!


Kathleen said...

Thanks for this, Bonnie. I find house moving fascinating too. It was common once to expand church buildings by cutting them in half, moving one half over, and then rebuilding the roofline. I can't wait to see your Crazy Lady Victorian House.

Bonnie Branson said...

Yes, at first I thought I had two facts mixed up: that it was cut in half at one point, and that it was moved. But I checked the website and it states that it was sawed in half to move it! Seems soo crazy to me. Why couldn't they drag it as it was? I am reading this book right now on the history of house moving: it has a small chapter on the history of house moving. So far that is the only book I could find about HOW moving was done in the past.

emoetria said...
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Sahil Kumar said...

I think it's a great idea that you are having some counseling to help you deal with it all, and I agree, being kind to yourself is the best advice.

Expert Removalists said...

It's amazing to know some amazing house moving stories. Actually, this can still be applied nowadays, but if you wan to move your items safely from one place to another, you can obtain the help of reliable removalists. :)

Jake Spode said...

You are right, the process of moving to a new house is so stressful and if only we could just have the house being moved to a new location. But this actually differs on a person because some people like to have a brand-new home in a different location. Thanks for sharing these inspiring moving house stories.

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