Wide Load... Historic Buildings Take a Ride

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 09/24/2009 - 12:22am.

It's amazing what a Kenworth tractor can pull down the road!

Put veteran driver Sonny Jones behind the wheel and together, they can tow an 84-year-old Coast Guard station a half a mile or so south down N.C. 12 in minutes, hang a right and back it into place without knocking over an open bottle of Coca Cola sitting on the building's front porch.

And that's exactly what happened last Thursday at 7 a.m. sharp when a crew from Worth H. Hare and Son, House Movers Inc. out of Edenton moved three historic buildings from the oceanside of the road just above the Coquina Beach access south to Lighthouse Bay Drive, the road that services the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Worth Hare, Jr., right, gives the signal to stop as Sonny Jones backs the old Coast Guard Station into place.

The three buildings were from different time periods and served different functions. The first one moved was a two-story Coast Guard station built in 1925. The second and primary structure was a Life-Saving Station built in 1878 and the third was a boathouse, constructed in 1916.

All three oceanfront buildings were turned over to the National Park Service in 1953 with the establishment of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to Doug Stover, National Park Service historian. They were moved because they were so close to the ocean that the right storm could have damaged them, park service officials said.

On the morning of the moves, Jones had to burn his headlights as clouds over the nearby ocean kept it dark out. Luckily, the traffic was fairly light as N.C. Highway Patrol officers stopped vehicles for this wide load.

Also assisting the Hare crew were members of the National Park Service as well as crews from Dominion N.C. Power who had to move at least one wire to get the second building moving.

But everything went off without a hitch.

In fact, the entire process of moving all three building only took three and a half hours. Stover clocked the three moves: 11 minutes for the Coast Guard station, eight minutes for the Life-Saving Station and eight minutes for the boat house, he said.

"Everything went well," he said. "It was amazing how long it didn't take."

Of course, there was some down time in between moves as the Hare crews had to jack up each building once it was moved so Jones could pull the tractor out and go get the next building. The pilings are in place for all three structures.

On the first move, it was quite a sight to first see him driving down the road with the house load, but what was even better was watching him back the two-story building into place. The company used wooden mats over the sand to keep the rigs from getting stuck.

With a burning cigarette hanging from his lips, Jones said it's all in a day's work. As for the Coke bottle, he said he can do better.

"You can put a quarter on edge and I won't knock it over," he mused.

Dawn Hare and her husband Worth Hare, Jr. also were keeping an eye on everything. Dawn said that although Jones doesn't show it, he does get a little nervous when towing old buildings.

"He said he gets the dry mouth every time he pulls one," she said.

But make no mistake, he relishes every pull.

"He thrives ... he lives on diesel fuel," Dawn said of Jones.

As for Worth, Jr., he was relieved when the largest of the three buildings was in place and a pack of laborers were getting blocks in place to get the building off of the steel I-beams with help from some hydraulic jacks.

"I'm the 'and son'," he said with a grin. "That was the intent -- get the pressure off to start with.

"It went alright," Worth, Jr. said. "There was a lot of good cooperation with the highway patrol and park service.

"Everybody did a grand job," he said.

Dawn was pleased to help preserve the building for the future.

"We've got to keep these things," she said. "Too many are gone already."

The park service crew was happy to see the building get moved to a site where they will be used. Visitors to the Bodie Island Lighthouse will see them on the right and left along the entrance road.

Greg Robinson, a public health service specialist with the park service, said they've already re-named the old Coast Guard Station "The Hilton." It's likely to be used for housing for rangers and, or Coquina Beach lifeguards. Later, it may also see use as a living history exhibit, Robinson said.

Stover said all three buildings are unique. The primary structure, the Life-Saving Station , was built in 1878 and was converted to a residence when the Coast Guard station was built in 1925.

It was moved to the oceanfront location in 1955. The Life-Saving Station and Coast Guard Station were altered the same year to provide housing and office space for the National Park Service, he said. All three were close to one another and had short service roads linked to N.C. 12.

The station served as administrative headquarters for Cape Hatteras National Seashore starting in 1955. It's exterior remains today much like it originally did in 1925, with the exception of a few additions and modifications over the years.

"The Bodie Island Coast Guard Station, of the architectural Chatham Style, was constructed in 1925," Stover said. "It is one of twenty-four stations that have survived the test of time.

"Seven stations of this style were originally constructed in North Carolina, three have been lost, two of the remaining four are located in the private sector, one is at Cape Lookout National Seashore and we have ours here," he said.

The boathouse will first be used for storage, but eventually, it will be be used "for a living history exhibit down the road," Robinson said.

Daryl Law - September 24, 2009 - source OuterBanksSentinel

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Thu, 09/24/2009 - 12:22am.