This house has moved on

After ‘dismantling,’ structure is relocated from Siesta Key

Part of the house sits on a flatbed, ready for the move at 2:30 a.m. Photo courtesy of Bob the Builder

I recently heard that a house on the south end of Midnight Pass Road was going to be moved, or re-moved, this time, off the Key and onto the mainland. This piqued my curiosity, and since the location was conveniently close, I decided to investigate.

When I arrived at the site on Day One, the two-story house along the Intracoastal Waterway was still intact. No surprise: Dump trucks and shovels were being put to use to remove debris and shrubs, as well as exterior decks and balconies that faced both the water and the street. The large backyard was almost completely covered with what had once been an important part of this house, which was built in 1936.

Bob the Builder, manager of the project, told me that a developer had bought the property on Midnight Pass Road. After learning of the situation through word of mouth, a local preservationist checked on the house and fell in love with its cypress wood and historic qualities. The preservationist wanted to retain as much of the house as possible for a move to a new location.

The developer, I understand, is planning to construct houses on the site.

The house was to be transferred to land in East County, with plans to keep it environmentally friendly.

As I left on Day One, Bob told me the workmen were planning to remove the top floor of the house. If I wanted to observe that, he said, the trucks would be arriving the next day at 4:30 a.m. I decided to take a pass and wait to see the results at a later date.

Preparations are underway for the move. Photo by Harriet Cuthbert

On Day Two, when I returned to the site, I saw the top level of the house was indeed missing. I wandered to the rear of the property, where I observed huge mounds of wood, metal and what looked like the remains of a house.

The view of the Intracoastal from that property is phenomenal, with the sun’s reflection creating various shapes on the calm water and the birds seeming to be enjoying the good life. I wondered why the owner chose to keep the yard as it was, without any changes. The magnificent oak trees, with Spanish moss draping the branches, would have made a beautiful backdrop for anything.

Heavy-duty equipment is ready for the big lift. Photo by Harriet Cuthbert

I then spoke with Kyle, who was in charge of the actual removal of the house from the site. He showed me where the crew members would be making the cut to basically split the remainder of the structure in two and then the parts onto a trailer for hauling by a truck. This very tedious and detailed procedure sounded like plans for major surgery, necessitating the meting out of various duties to assistants. When the operation was complete, and everything had been put back where it belonged, one would hope that the result would prove to be exactly what one had wanted.

Sections of the house sit side-by-side. Photo by Harriet Cuthbert

Day Three was Moving Day. I was told to arrive in the afternoon because the men needed a few hours in the morning to plan and prepare for the actual removal of the house from the property. When I arrived, I was the lone sightseer, which surprised me. I saw the crew members rolling enormous tires under the remains of the house. Tractors were used to place those tires correctly.

The house had been lifted somewhat off the ground. It would be aligned on gigantic girders, and the transfer would begin.

I found Kyle upset because one of the tires was flat and had to be repaired. I watched as his workmen lit a small fire and appeared to burn the hole to seal it. Then they were ready.  This process would take awhile but, luckily, as I was driving down Midnight Pass Road, I noticed that the house that had stood right next to Bob the Builder’s project also had been transferred to a new location. When I walked over there, all I saw was a completely empty lot with just one man driving another huge tractor as he smoothed out the soil.

A worker uses equipment to smooth out the site where another house has been removed. Photo by Harriet Cuthbert

The Intracoastal from that vantage point was just as hypnotic as I had found it next door. Houses will come and go, but the view from Siesta Key to parts unknown will remain timeless.

The house is on the road. Photo courtesy of Bob the Builder

2 thoughts on “This house has moved on”

  1. Very interesting story on more than one level – how the job got done is fascinating, but also, the reason why – economics, development, pressure on the prime island property, value for something old, historical. Would you happen to know where in East County the house will be sited? I ask because we are now seeing much change coming to East Sarasota – in fact the reason we’re trying to protect the Celery Fields from further industrialization is in order to preserve some open space, some public land, before it’s too late. Thanks for the story.

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