Structure Relocation: Pursuit of Preservation


There are times when redevelopment can mean new life for a city or town, but it can also mean that existing buildings in the area are faced with the prospect of rezoning or redistricting. These buildings can be historic in nature, or otherwise be perfectly good and sound structures that just need a new parcel of land to call home. In cases where the land is more valuable than the structure, a new owner will sometimes purchase a piece of property for the sole purpose of moving the home or building and then resell the land for redevelopment.

This past year we’ve seen many news stories (and have shared quite a few on our Facebook page...’like’ us to read our industry-related posts) about different types of building moving from across the country and even around the world.

Interestingly, moving historical buildings and monuments is more common than one might think. For example, the Chinese have found that as cities grow because of population surges, moving centuries-old temples or other structures makes sense. And, they are not just moving them across town...sometimes they are completely disassembled before moving them across the country. This method of preservation works for the Chinese. While the US is a much younger country, historic buildings have no less value to fact, sometimes we just appreciate the artistry of a building and move it from China to Massachusetts!

Yin Yu Tang is an 18th century home of a Chinese merchant family and was moved from Huizhou in the Anhui province to the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The home has large reception rooms and carved brick details on the exterior. In 1996, the family that owned the building wanted to sell the property. By purchasing the home, the museum was able to keep it intact rather than having parts of it removed to be sold piecemeal. This is a success story of preserving heritage. The dismantlers and movers also found notations and other information on how the home was constructed originally.

Closer to home, Brown University is teaming up with artist Ryan Mendoza to bring Rosa Parks’ Detroit home back to the United States. Mendoza took it upon himself to preserve the historically significant house as Detroit was preparing to level it. Mendoza painstakingly disassembled her home, and reassembled it in Berlin, Germany, and now, Providence awaits the return of Civil Rights-era heroine’s home. Without conscious preservation, the tides of time erode our history.

Here at Kettelle we are looking forward to another year of preserving buildings for our clients. Whether it is a historical building, a home in a flood plain, or foundation repair work, we can do it. Contact us today!