Historic house gets a lift

2009-12-14T23:15:00Z Historic house gets a liftBy Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
December 14, 2009 11:15 pm  • 

Oregon State University is pretty quiet this week; classes are on hold for winter break.

So Monday morning, few students had a chance to see when the large, two-story 100-year-old house at 645 N.W. 17th St. became a "mobile home" for its round-about relocation to 216 N.W. 15th St.

The white house with rust-colored trim measured 29 feet wide and more than 48 feet long eave-to eave. Combined with the moving equipment, it was 44 tons of matter moving down the road.

A crew a Salem house-moving company - with the help of campus and city officials - blocked streets and moved traffic lights to make way for the big move. Pedestrians stopped and stared. OSU employees trickled out of office buildings. Many pointed cell phone cameras at the sight.

So why did the house cross the roads? To get to another site, of course.

The university has been trying to sell three houses on the southern edge of campus to make room for a new residence hall. This house was located across 17th Street and behind Halsell Resident Hall. The site where the house and its lawn was located probably will become a parking lot, said Brian Thorsness, OSU's director of business services.

The house was valued at $52,480. It was built in 1909 and has three bedrooms, two baths and measures about 2,000 square feet. It was a rental, and the last occupants left in March. It'll be a rental at its new address, too.

Mike Wells, who runs Wells Rentals, bought the house from OSU on Oct. 9.

"It's about half the cost of building something, or less," he said.

It's also a good deal for the university, he said, which now doesn't have to pay to have the house demolished. Thorsness said that preserving old houses is one of the reasons the university tries to find buyers for them.

"We really reached out to the community, both Habitat for Humanity and other social service organizations, trying to transfer it or donate it before we ended up selling it," Thorsness said.

It's not the first time an old home on OSU property has been relocated.

Several years ago, Endex Engineering purchased the 1893 Poultry Building and 1907 Incubator House from OSU. Endex moved the buildings to 800 S.W. Washington Avenue. The buildings were restored and re-opened in 2006 as a apartments in a mixed-use commercial development called Washington Hall. The other two houses OSU has for sale are very near the original location.

One, at 633 S.W. 17th St., was built in 1908. The 1,736 square-foot house has a market value of $49,760. The other, a 1905 house at 636 S.W. 16th St., is about 2,000 square feet and is valued at $57,710.

Although this was the first time Wells had moved a house, the company that literally did the heavy lifting had a lot of experience.

Steve Hoskins General Contractor, Inc., out of Salem, has done many relocations, Wells said. He has hired the company before to lift Corvallis houses and install basements under them.

Monday morning, the house progressed smoothly and reached its destination well ahead of schedule - even with some stops to trim branches along Southwest 15th Street.

"Overall, it went real well," Wells said. "They've got their act together for moving houses."

Now he's just got to get it ready for the next tenants.

"Hopefully the house will get another decade of use or so, and someone will be able to enjoy it while they're going to school," Wells said. "Maybe longer."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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