Hi. I’m Walking Bob and while I was taking photos of the Davis Disability Pride Parade a young man handed me a flyer and said I wouldn’t want to miss taking photos of a house moving. I thought back to all the times I’ve helped my three kids move from one house or apartment to another and was ready to just toss away the paper when I read about a project that would “reuse and retrofit two historic houses using top-notch green building technology.”
On Monday morning, August 2, I took the three-mile walk to the site where the two homes had already been lifted onto trailers ready to be hauled away. Mayor Don Saylor and Bob Pearl from the non-profit Solar Community Housing Association filled in some of the history and details of the project over coffee and pastries in the Central Park Garden and by about 8:00, the trucks and crew began pulling the first home out to the street.
I was surprised to see my friends Leo and Nancy Candelo out so early and learned that one of the homes had been built around 1930 by C.F. Dixon, the grandfather of Nancy Candelo. Nancy lived there when she was born and then moved back there in the 1960’s after her grandfather died and left the home to her mother. She met and married Leo while she lived in that home at 311 B Street. She was quick to point out that the shutters were green when she lived there, not the bright red they were now painted.
A good crowd, including reporters from Fox 40, KCRA, the Davis Enterprise and the Sacramento Bee, were there to chronicle the move and interview people along the route. The move itself was fascinating as an experienced and confident crew began scurrying in front, behind, and beneath the moving homes to get just the right angle to pull them around corners or to avoid the trees and various lines along B and Third Streets.
An arborist truck darted in and out, raising a man into the trees with a chainsaw to trim branches that just couldn’t be avoided. One house had a wider roof and one a taller one so a tree that let one though sometimes had to be trimmed to let the other house through. For about two hours the slow moving caravan rolled past Davis landmarks and a growing crowd that came out from area businesses or were caught by surprise when a house was rolling down the street they were trying to cross.
Police officers and the moving crew blocked streets as needed and the efficient crew picked up no-parking signs as they were no longer needed. A tow truck appeared a couple of times ready to tow away a car that hadn’t heeded the posted signs only to watch as a driver ran to his car and drove away just ahead of the rolling homes. Mark Chang and his mobile calliope attracted a joyful group of dancers as he played songs that included “Our house, in the middle of the street.”
All went well until the caravan arrived at the train tracks where it took close to two hours and the combined efforts of Union Pacific and Pacific Gas and Electric crews to safely move the railroad cantilevers that hold the signal lights without touching the power lines. However, by early afternoon, the two homes had been planted on the ground of their new location at Third and J Streets.
Later in the week, the homes were lifted and turned to face out onto J Street as the process of refurbishment began. The day I stopped by the work crew was enjoying a break from the heat, sitting beneath the raised houses. Work hadn’t yet begun back at B Street where the Sherman Home Company that donated the homes and $93,000 to the project will build four townhomes.
This is only the beginning of the process and volunteer work crews will be needed to help finish off the conversion of the vintage homes to affordable housing for eight with solar panels, enhanced windows insulation, and various other green-build technologies. If you’re interested in helping at the first work days on August 21 and 22, call (530) 753-7657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org