Trying to squeeze a 44-ton house through the back yards of neighboring homes can really slow down a house move.
The former home of May H. Prentice, Kent State University’s first female faculty member, was moved several lots south Monday from its plot at 128 S. Willow St. to make way for the new University Esplanade extension.
Stein House Movers Inc. of Vienna, Ohio, gained ground quickly in the first half hour of the move, toting the century home southward about 1,000 feet from its original back yard, across Erie Street and into the back yards of neighboring houses on Willow.
Then the slowdown was under way. It took the next three hours to manuever another 500 feet as the Prentice house squeaked between a large pole in the back yard at 210 S. Willow and the eave and gutter at 330 Erie St.
Jessie Humenik, public relations rep for Stein House Movers, said the third-generation company is used to dealing with tight squeezes. Not surprising, considering the firm moves about 20 houses and barns each year in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
"We often have to deal with tight spots – and it's always an interesting feat," Humenik said as she watched the Prentice house gain ground toward its destination at 214/220 S. Willow St., where the university demolished two homes on Jan. 31.
The 30- by 45-foot Prentice house was seated on a network of five steel H-beams that rode atop seven self-leveling dollies and axles whose directions could be changed. A semi truck pulled the house.
Humenik said houses and barns of all sizes can be moved without damages. "Sometimes we'll get some hairline cracks in the plaster, if any at all," she said.
"The biggest problem (in the moving process) is taking a house off the foundation that its settled on for over 100 years," Humenik said.
The Prentice house is now parked in its new yard at 214/220 S. Willow, awaiting the finalization of plans by Kent State for its future use.