Moving house required patience, inspired wonder

There are certain situations in life when it is prudent to act very slowly, exercise great patience and to know exactly where your next move will take you.


One of those situations is when you are moving a two-story, 4,000-square-foot brick house that weighs almost 200 tons.


That, of course, is what happened on the campus of Elon University last weekend when the Holland House was taken on a trip a few hundred yards across campus to a new location near Holt Chapel.


Sounds simple enough when you say it that way. But it becomes a bit more complicated when you realize it had to be turned sideways to get it off the lot where it has been since 1963 and on to Haggard Avenue. Then just down the street there was another 90-degree turn on to Antioch.


Add to this situation the fact that the house is about as wide as the road, and that not only makes it hard to turn but it also interferes with big trees along the way, not to mention power lines and poles.


The streets were pretty level, but when you are moving something this big, even the slightest downhill movement is a problem. You have to hook trucks to the rear of the house to keep it from running down the grade too fast and overrunning the trucks doing the pulling. It looks a bit odd to see two trucks in front, two in the rear, apparently pulling in opposite directions. In truth, the ones in the rear are acting as brakes for the house.


The one thing that really made this move unique was the fact that the house had to be moved across the railroad tracks. And that, of course, meant close attention was paid to the train schedules. As soon as Amtrak passed, workmen built a large platform across the tracks. The house then began its crossing under the watchful eyes of a large crowd of spectators that had gathered. Carefully, slowly, ever so slowly, deliberately, an inch at a time.

And then it was across. Cheers, applause. The worst of it was over. Well, not exactly. Down in front of Johnston Hall, there are some very large and very old oak trees. And at Elon University oak trees are special. After all, Elon is a Hebrew word for oak, and oaks are tradition for the university. You just don’t tear down oak trees.   


Carefully, slowly, ever so slowly, deliberately, an inch at a time, and the house was moved past those trees, and the Holland House found its new location on the South Campus. 


Don Bolden 


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