One of the highlights of my summer was to see half a house maneuver the corner of Broad and Jay and slowly make its way down to its lot at number 588 Jay Street. The action became even more exciting as an enormous crane moved the house from the flatbed truck and effortlessly lifted it onto its foundation. As the crane operator swung the shell it nimbly avoided the adjacent structure by a few inches. Then the shell was pushed and eased into place and before long, the first half of the house made a perfect landing on the concrete foundation. Well, almost perfect. It was off by a mere two inches, and while that may of okay in some situations it’s definitely not acceptable in a house. So, with a bit of pushing and assistance from a layer of power washing detergent, applied to its base, the house became true and straight. Later that afternoon the second half was similarly placed.
This is not the first time that Habitat has moved a house, although in the case of the first two houses the circumstance were quite a bit different. The houses which are now located on Upper Falls Blvd are large two story structures with complicated roofing. In one case, Kodak was expanding a parking lot and rather than demolish a sound house, decided to give it to Habitat and pay for its move. In the second case Peihler Pontiac was expanding its dealership where a house was located. Moving older houses is not for the faint of heart. Not only are there significant structural issues to deal with, but the logistics of moving a large building through city streets is daunting. Nevertheless, thanks to Matthews Brothers (a company that specializes in moving houses-and recently moved a historical structure to Genesee Country Museum) the move was accomplished on a quiet Sunday morning. According to veteran volunteers, light fixtures and traffic lights were swung out of the path of the house as it crawled down Lake Avenue, turned left onto the Bausch Bridge and then over to Upper Falls Blvd. and its new location.
We hope that house moving becomes an annual event at Habitat. In September 2009 we entered into a partnership with BOCES-2 Construction Arts Program in Spencerport to support the construction of Habitat homes by students enrolled in the program. Not only would students get hands-on experience of building a house, but also be able to come to our sites in Rochester to participate in other aspects of our building program. BOCES-2 builds a house over a two year period. Year one students work on framing, roof, interior walls, rough electrical and plumbing etc. In year two, second year students work on drywall, finish electrical and plumbing, trim, cabinets etc. In September 2009 students began working on a house that will be build to Habitat’s specifications and that house will be moved to its JOSANA site in May 2011. We are eager to develop collaborative programs and we hope our BOCES-2 partnership is the first of many more.