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Moving a building is Childs’ play

The Lannon-Hill Home & Store Building at 502 W. Main St., Madison, is on the truck Friday and ready to be moved Tuesday morning to Madison's east side. Mt. Hope-based Heritage Movers LLC is handling the heavy lifting. (Photo courtesy of Anne Neujahr Morrison/Urban Land Interests)

The Lannon-Hill Home & Store Building at 502 W. Main St., Madison, is on the truck Friday and ready to be moved Tuesday morning to Madison’s west side. Mt. Hope-based Heritage Movers LLC is handling the heavy lifting. (Photo courtesy of Anne Neujahr Morrison/Urban Land Interests)

It’s the ultimate cash and carry.

A nondescript, two-story, beige and brown brick building at 502 W. Main St. in Madison, that until recently housed a flower shop, sold for about the price of a few gallons of gas. A good deal, right? Sure, until you read the fine print: You buy it, you move it.

The 1,200-square-foot Lannon-Hill Home & Store Building has been on the corner of Main and Bassett streets for 150 years. It won’t be there much longer.

The sounds of concrete saws and drilling rang out this week in the typically peaceful Bassett neighborhood, and, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the building will make a four-block jaunt to 151 Proudfit St. The Lannon-Hill building is destined to become a two-bedroom, single-family residence and will fit into Madison-based Urban Land Interests’ residential community in Findorff Yards on the city’s west side, ULI’s Anne Neujahr Morrison said.

ULI is orchestrating the move and has hired one of the best, and the only local, in the business to get the job done.

The building at West Main and Bassett streets sold for a nominal price recently. That was the easy part. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

The building at West Main and Bassett streets in Madison sold for a nominal price recently. That was the easy part. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Dennis Childs is preparing the building for its new home. He and his crew of five have been getting their hands dirty since last week. Moving houses is in the Childs’ blood. Dennis is the fourth generation of house movers, a skill that can’t be learned by reading a textbook.

“It’s still exciting,” Childs, co-owner of Mt. Hope-based Heritage Movers LLC, said Tuesday from the site. “It’ll take about a week to move it. It’s a pretty delicate process.”

You need to err on the delicate side when moving a building. One bad decision or broken cable, and a delicate job turns into a difficult disaster.

“They definitely have a lot of experience,” Morrison said, “and they’ve done this kind of move many times before.”

The building will receive a police escort Tuesday morning. Utility crews will be on hand to ensure nothing leaks or sparks. Childs estimated the building is about 20-feet wide and 30-feet long and weighs between 150 and 200 tons. Four hydraulic lifts and four cables were used to move the building onto a flatbed truck.

Even as a fourth generation heavy lifter, Childs isn’t about to resist change. He is trying something new for the move. His crew cut 24 holes in the foundation with a concrete saw and will use the holes and cables to get the building on a truck and stabilize it during the white-knuckled ride.

“The equipment has improved so much over the years,” said Childs, whose heaviest job was a few years ago in Madison when he moved the 720-ton St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center about 80 feet on University Avenue. “When my great grandpa did this it was all physical labor. Now machines do everything.”

Everything except the white-knuckle part.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at joe.yovino@dailyreporter.com.

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