Zahn House moves to new home (w/video)
Like a puppeteer on a stage, Dereck Talkington threw his hands in the air in front of the red Auto-Car moving truck, directing its 20-year-old driver how to ease a historic house to its new home.
Boarded up and paint fading, the 153-year-old Zahn House survived a precarious move Wednesday to 301 S. Wheeler St. that involved blockading streets, cutting down trees and taking out a fence.
With the fate of the pier-and-beam home back on stable ground, Jeff Wright, executive director of Victoria Preservation Inc., breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the now empty lot at 107 DeLeon St. He hopes to see the house re-entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
Since June, Wright has worked with city leaders, self-proclaimed "downtowners" and historians to find a way to save the home from becoming a pile of splinters.
Ben Caraway, owner of Caraway Plumbing, accepted the house for free, saving the property owners, Bud and Linda Hankins, from demolishing history.
He plans to restore it and convert the two-bedroom structure to a private guesthouse painted buttery yellow with white trim.
"Now, the headache begins," Caraway said through a joking grin. "My main thing was not to waste it."
To prepare the home for the move, Talkington and his crew from Clegg Services, a Victoria moving company, began cleaning out the house in January.
The next month, the crew removed a portion of the home's roof, and later, a back addition that was not original to the structure.
Caraway said he expects the project to take about four years to complete.
"I like doing it; it's a good stress-reliever," he said.
His current home, located next door, is going on 18 years of work.
The city gave Victoria Preservation Inc. a matching grant of $12,000 to move the structure. As the oldest home Talkington had ever relocated, he said he was nervous about its size.
The wide home had only a few feet for 90-degree turns and inches between the roof and power lines at certain points along the three-block route.
Despite being moved from its site of 153 years, Talkington and Wright agreed the new location is as good as any.
"It will still be a historic home," Talkington said. "It's going by a 1900s house, so it will fit the community well."