On the move

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A century-old house finds new life a mile from its original site

AUBURN – Home life is literally on a roll for John Bishop.

A green frame house that was office space for Re/Max River Cities was hoisted from its Center Street foundation, settled on the back of a trailer and then transported v-e-r-y slowly to Northern Avenue where it will be home to Bishop and his family.

“We are all tickled pink,” said Bishop, speaking for his wife, Shandra, and sons Jordan, 12, and Hunter, 10, and their three Lhasa Apsos. The family had been living in a 14-by-70-foot trailer for the past eight years.

The home, built in 1901, was part of an office complex that most recently housed the real estate offices of George Greenwood and his wife, Sandra Tassinari. But last year when the couple decided to build a new facility, the three houses standing on the lot had to go.

“We didn’t want to tear this one down,” said Greenwood of the house. “We’d put some money into it and felt it was a nice home. But we had to find someone who wanted it and was willing to move it.”

Coincidentally, Bishop’s brother plows the River Cities driveway and asked Greenwood what the plans were for the green house. Turns out a buyer from Gray offered to take it just a couple of weeks earlier. Bishop thought he’d lost his chance.

“But I introduced myself to George anyway and said if anything fell through, I’d be interested,” he said.

Four weeks later he got a call. Apparently the Gray buyer had to abandon plans when he realized the house wouldn’t clear a Turnpike bridge.

That sent Bishop into overdrive. He had six weeks to get a foundation in the ground to support the 24-by-36, story-and-a-half home.

He did, then Tuesday watched carefully as crews from Jewett builders in Gardiner jacked up the home and hauled it (“top speed was a couple miles per hour … tops”) the mile or so to its new location.

“It was quite a process,” he said. Traffic was stopped on Center Street for 11 minutes until the house could turn onto Cross Street before making its way to Northern Avenue.

Bishop expects to get the house settled on its new foundation by the end of the week and then has to hook up all the systems before the family can formally move in. Although he only paid $1 for the house, it cost in the ballpark of $20,000 to move and the house needs a new roof and heating system.

“We’ll have a decent-sized mortgage, but still, it’s a house,” he said, noting the kids have already picked their bedrooms.

Greenwood, who’s been in the real estate business for about 20 years, said this was the first time he was involved in literally moving a house. He said it was especially gratifying to know the house would provide a home for a growing local family – an appreciation shared by two previous owners of the home who stopped by to watch the crews Tuesday morning.

And that he was apparently carrying on a tradition.

“A neighbor who’s been here for about 50 years told me three or four other houses have all been relocated to different parts of the city,” he said.

The move also allows Greenwood to finish the plans for his new office project, which should be completed July 1. The green house stood where some of his new parking is planned.

“We’re really happy it worked out this way,” he said.

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