Renovation project moves century-old home in South Carolina

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Movers in Aiken, SC, have their hands full – and a moment on the Park Avenue train tracks – as they approach the final block of their Feb. 16, 2022 project, en route to Williamsburg Street, with a century-old home being relocated.  (Bill Bengtson/The Aiken Standard via AP)

Movers in Aiken, SC, have their hands full – and a moment on the Park Avenue train tracks – as they approach the final block of their Feb. 16, 2022 project, en route to Williamsburg Street, with a century-old home being relocated. (Bill Bengtson/The Aiken Standard via AP)

PA

Hundreds of mid-day travelers along Richland Avenue encountered a detour and approached extremely slow traffic on February 16, with one of Aiken’s ‘vintage’ homes being carefully moved by nearly a mile.

The two-story clapboard house, which dates back to at least 1904, was just yards from 427 Richland Ave. NE, on the Cumberland AME Church campus, and spent several hours atop a flatbed trailer, en route to 230 Williamsburg St. SE, via Marion Street and Park Avenue, to a lot freshly vacant within sight of the Aiken County Farmers Market. Nearby neighbors include Aiken Systems Unlimited, a provider of alarms and security cameras.

The house, with the objective of beautifying the neighborhood in the context of diversity, must now undergo several months of renovation and be offered for sale. An empty warehouse that had become a boxing hall and fallen into disrepair was part of the earlier landscape.

The house, as it moved, was 8 meters high and 10 meters wide, which meant a variety of adjustments over a period of about four hours, with buzzing chainsaws and road signs at times removed for a few minutes. “We just had to trim the trees along the way and knock down the power lines and communication lines,” said David McGhee of North Augusta-based Sitec Construction. He estimated that the road covered about three-quarters of a mile.

As for the house, he added, “We expect it to be completed in six to eight months.”

A variety of McGhees, all deep into construction, helped guide the day’s activity, as David’s dad Bill was on board with McGhee Redux, and David’s brothers are also involved: Jay, via Sitec; and Michael, with McGhee and McGhee.

Bobby Forrest, along with Saluda-based Forrest Movers, helped guide the truck. He helped put the project into perspective, noting, “We are the oldest and largest recycling industry in the world. This house alone probably kept 50 tons out of a landfill.

The driver, George Forrest, said the day’s chore was nothing out of the ordinary as he dealt with mailboxes, cars and pedestrians. “My father created the company in 1979 and I was 9 years old. I didn’t do anything else. It’s just part of the job.

Bill McGhee, who led two similar moving and renovation projects in recent years, also shed light on the day’s efforts and noted that the house was due for demolition. “We saved them and renovated the other two, and they’re busy right now, full time, and they’re nice homes,” he said.

“We didn’t want to see the historic home lost,” said Beatrice McGhee, Bill’s wife. “That’s our main motivation. We like old houses. We think this one is graceful and beautiful, and we hope to keep it here… We think it helps beautify the city, and especially the neighborhood here on the Northside, which doesn’t always attract attention.

The home, which currently has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, covers approximately 1,800 square feet. It is to be expanded to include a porch and two and a half bathrooms and include approximately 3,000 square feet — “spacious and ideal for family living,” in Beatrice’s words.

Bill said this relocation project was a bit more difficult than the previous two, in terms of the amount of adjustments made along the way, and the outlook is bright. “We think this will help the neighborhood,” he added. “We’ve spoken to some of the neighbors here, and they’re so happy.”

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