SCHENECTADY — How do you move a house that’s been sitting in the same place for more than 200 years?
Very slowly, very carefully, and with lots of wheels.
After years of planning and months of preparation, crews finally moved the home at 4 Washington Ave. in Schenectady’s Stockade on Wednesday morning. In total, it took about an hour to shift the structure roughly 15 feet farther away from the street. That, combined with 7.5 feet of additional elevation, will raise the home out of the 100-year floodplain of the Mohawk River.
“I just want to not be anxious every time the river rises,” owner Meredith Anker said last week.
The perimeter of the house was dug up in July. Following a couple of delays, the house was raised up on wooden supports last week. Wheels and wooden boards that served as tracks were put in place as of Tuesday night, and the house was moved Wednesday by noon.
About six sets of wheels, each with eight wheels, were distributed under the house, which is supported by numerous steel beams.
Previously, movers planned to put the house on a temporary foundation while the new, elevated one was filled in. However, to move the house as little as possible, it was shifted directly to its final resting place, contractor Jim Plowman said.
“We decided it was too much moving back and forth,” Plowman said. “It’s more work for us now, but it’s a lot less dangerous than moving this thing back and forth.”
The house at 4 Washington Ave. was moved into its permanent place Wednesday along Washington Avenue in Schenectady's Stockade. (Marc Schultz)
The new foundation will need to be filled in, which will take at least a couple of weeks, one worker said. When it’s finished, the entrance to the home will slope down to the street, making it look as if the building sits on a slope overlooking the river in its backyard.
The house elevation is the first of its kind in the Stockade, where residents in certain areas are considering potential flood mitigation strategies in the event the Mohawk River overflows its banks again.
Having the building in place is a relief, Plowman said, as workers worried throughout the project about slight shifts and movements that could affect the historic building that dates back to the early 1800s.
Ultimately, as the house hovered above its surroundings, the doors and windows remained shut and each brick remained in place. Only a chimney that had been installed as part of an addition needed to be secured with a cable last week as it began tipping away from the structure.
About a dozen residents made their way to the end of Washington Avenue to observe the latest step in the moving process. Many were in awe of the engineering, complexity and presumed cost of the project, while a few others were expecting more of a spectacle.
“It’s already done?” one woman asked, suggesting it hadn’t moved very much.
“What a letdown!” Plowman replied with a smile.
“To me, this is cooler than putting someone on the moon,” said Stockade resident Holly Van Voast, who took out a video camera as the move was completed. “They just picked up this little brick house. I’ve never seen anything like it."