Inch by precious inch: Historic 172-year-old doctor’s house is moved just 200ft to save it from the wrecking ball
- Hiram Dooley House is one of Abingdon’s few remaining pre-Civil War buildings
- It was due to be demolished due to be demolished and replaced with a picnic pavilion because of the high costs of maintaining the property
- Community members and an entrepreneur stepped in to save the structure
- On Wednesday, it was moved 200ft from Pecan Street to new spot on Park Street
- The process took about two hours and was watched by local residents
An historic home in Abingdon, Virginia has been moved 200ft from its original spot to save it from the wrecking ball.
Residents gathered on Wednesday to watch the relocation of the 172-year-old Hiram Dooley House.
Built in 1849, the home is one of the few remaining pre-Civil War structures in Abingdon’s main district.
It was due to be demolished to make way for a new picnic pavilion before community members started a petition to save and relocate the building.
On Wednesday, the structure was lifted off the ground and placed on a platform with wheels.
Turning at a glacial pace, the wheels transported the home from Pecan Street to Park Street.
A specialist company from Pennsylvania was called in to carry out the delicate procedure, arriving just before Memorial Day to begin preparations.
An historic home in Abingdon, Virginia has been moved 200ft from its original spot to save it from the wrecking ball
Built in 1849, the home is one of the few remaining pre-Civil War structures in Abingdon’s main district. It was due to be demolished to make way for a new picnic pavilion before community members started a petition to save and relocate the building
Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church, which has owned the property since 2008, announced earlier this year that it would be demolished as it was too costly to maintain.
The news prompted members of the Historical Society of Washington County to attempt to persuade Abingdon officials to extend the town’s Old and Historic District so that the house would be protected, The Herald Courier reported.
A petition to save the home described it as ‘one of the 30 oldest structures in Abingdon’.
‘The oldest and most visited tourist towns in the world do not continue to bring visitors to their locations by tearing down their most historic building one by one,’ the petition read.
‘More is at stake than the removal of a single historic structure; this includes the loss of cultural identity, the loss of Abingdon’s architectural aesthetic beauty and the absence of the importance of historical preservation as buildings like this one are demolished.’
‘Why save a historic house? Anyone who recognizes the value of preserving history should be concerned by this irreversible decision. The effects of abolishing historic structures like this directly impact local residents in Abingdon and beyond.
‘With the removal of this structure the charm and beauty that lines the streets of Abingdon will be taken down, literally, brick by brick. We must work together to become community tradition caretakers to save our historic structures to ensure they are preserved for the future.’
According to the petition, the home was built by furniture maker Hiram Dooley before being acquired by a Dr. Edward McDonald Campbell.
Residents gathered on Wednesday to watch the relocation of the 172-year-old Hiram Dooley House
Town leaders worked to find a solution to save the property before entrepreneur David Dalton, who splits his time between Abingdon and Charlotte, North Carolina, stepped in.
Speaking before Wednesday’s move, the 61-year-old told The Herald Courier that the Church oversaw the tearing off of a more modern extension at the back of the property prior to the two-story brick structure’s move.
He added that community members donated around $27,000 of the $55,000 needed to drop utility lines on poles to make way for the move, while some also donated towards the move itself.
‘My goal really is to break even on it. And, with interest rates being as low as they are, I think I’ll apply for a construction loan. So, it will make sense,’ Dalton told the paper, without disclosing the total cost of the move.
‘Let me just say that it’s a lot more expensive than I thought it would be.
‘But the great thing is the community has come together, and it’s going to make it financially appropriate.’
Dalton now plans to give the house a more ‘majestic’ look by basing it on a taller foundation.
He told The Herald Courier that he was not quite sure how he’d use the property in the future but suggested he will likely renovate the home.
‘My goal right now is just to make sure we get it successfully moved’.
On Wednesday, the structure was lifted off the ground and placed on a platform with wheels. Turning at a glacial pace, the wheels transported the home from Pecan Street to Park Street
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