August 18, 2015

Picture This: Moving the Otis Mason House

  • By: National Trust for Historic Preservation
By the National Trust Historic Sites Team

A month ago we witnessed something pretty spectacular near our historic site of Woodlawn and Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey -- the c. 1873 Otis Mason House was moved from its current site to a temporary location as a result of the widening and rerouting of Route 1. Wolfe House and Building Movers was contracted to lift and move the house some 400 feet, which will remain on the temporary site until the construction of the new foundation and basement is complete.

To relocate the house, soil around and under the building was removed to make room for high-strength steel lifting beams. The beams were positioned underneath the house to support it during the lift and move, and provide stability for the chimneys.

The house was then lifted with jacking towers so that radio remote-controlled hydraulic dollies could be placed evenly under the beams. These dollies are designed to keep the stress levels on the building to the lowest, and again assist with the stability of the structure during the move.

After the dollies were in place the move started. It was a very slow and smooth process that took about two hours to move the house up the hill. After the move was complete, cribbing piles were placed underneath the beams supporting the house allowing it to remain stable in its temporary location, until the new basement is finished and the house can be placed on the final site.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. @savingplaces

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