St. Louis moves 3-story house out of NGA site
Charlesetta Taylor was a 10-year-old when she and her family moved into the home at 2530 North Market St.
That was back in 1945.
But now, it's her house that's moved, not the octogenarian.
"It's crazy to see any house move," Taylor said Sunday as she stood outside watching her three-story brick home roll up Jefferson Avenue to its final destination at 2200 St. Louis Ave.
The city of St. Louis agreed to move the home to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new $1.75 billion facility. The nearly 100-acre site in St. Louis Place neighborhood was home to about 200 residents and a handful of businesses. The residents moved out this past summer and their homes will be demolished in coming months.
Taylor’s is the only home that’s being relocated.
At 367 tons and nearly 3,000 square feet it would seem to be a huge undertaking.
John Matyiko, the owner of St. Louis-based EHM, which he said stands for "Expert House Movers," has a different perspective.
“To put it in proportion, we moved the original airport terminal in Newark, New Jersey, and that was 7,000 tons,” he said. “And the tallest building we moved was 21 stories.”
Weeks ago the house was hoisted onto hydraulic wheels. EHM workers were able to steer the house on Sunday by remote control. Matyiko described the moving speed as a “brisk walking pace," and the structure covered the seven-tenths of mile move in under six hours.
Taylor was initially opposed to city’s efforts to bring the NGA to north St. Louis. She publicly delivered a petition to the NGA back in May 2015. But her vocal opposition ended when the city agreed to move her home.
The total cost to the city will be between $450,000-$500,000, according to St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams. (The move itself is about $250,000, but there have been other costs in dealing with site preparation, utilities and insurance.) Williams said that total price tag will likely be very close to what the city would have paid if Taylor and the city had wound up in court.
"But this is a win-win for her and her family in that they're able to retain their home, and we've moved it to a site along St. Louis Avenue where it will enrich the fabric of that street as well," he said. "So we're all happy with the outcome."
The owner of the Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory and at least one other home owner leaned on the city to move their property. Williams said Taylor was willing to negotiate with the city early on in the process, and her home was architecturally significant and structurally sound, unlike most other buildings in the NGA footprint.
While Taylor said she's thrilled that the house is being saved, it was a bit traumatic for the family to watch it get hoisted off its foundation and moved up the street. Taylor's mother and her mother's sister were married to two brothers, and the two families live together in what they refer to as "the big house."
Taylor's cousin, Helen Brown, was the youngest of the 13 children who grew up at the home and was on hand to see the move.
"I think we're all sad to see it leave 2530 N. Market because that's where our roots were for so long," Brown said. "But the fact that the house is still standing, we're totally grateful and see it as a miracle."
As for the home-mover, Matyiko said he was happy to be doing work in St. Louis where his business is located. EHM has been involved in moving big structures across the country.
“I wish there were more buildings being saved around St. Louis instead of demolished, because they can readily be moved,” he said.
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