As most of Kent slept, a pre- Civil War era house quickly and quietly rolled down Haymaker Parkway Saturday morning.
For the Kent Wells-Sherman House, Saturday's move was the second time movers lifted the Greek revival style structure from its foundation and set it somewhere new.
And if the stars align, there's a third move yet in this house's future.
Members of the non-profit group Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. gathered just before 7 a.m. Saturday to watch as Stein House Movers, Inc. trucked the house from its last permanent address at 250 E. Erie St. to a temporary spot at the western end of East College Avenue.
The 1858 house has ties to the Kent family and other early prominent citizens. It can be stored on the lot, which is owned by Kent State University, through Dec. 1. If a permanent spot for the house can’t be found by then, it will be demolished.
That’s why Roger Thurman, vice president of the Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. board, wasn’t exactly beaming over Saturday’s early morning move.
“It feels semi-good because this is a temporary location,” Thurman said. “It feels just OK. It’s good the house is saved to this point, but this is not the final resting place.”
Exactly where that final resting place should be has been a contentious point in the Kent community the past several months.
The non-profit group’s preferred permanent location is on North Water Street between the Scribbles Coffee Company building and the Standing Rock Cultural Arts North Water Street Gallery.
But last month members of the Kent Planning Commission rejected the KWSH site plan for moving the house to the vacant 247 N. Water St. parcel.
So the group is re-applying to the planning commission on Sept. 4 with a different site plan that moves the house closer to North Water Street and about 16 inches from the sidewalk.
Thurman said the group has two back-up locations should the new North Water Street proposal be rejected.
The first spot would be at the northeast corner of the intersection of Franklin Avenue and West College Avenue caddy corner from the Haymaker Farmers Market. The second spot would be along the Cuyahoga River on city owned land just south of the new Fairchild Avenue Bridge.
"Right now it's fenced off and they’ve got all the construction equipment there," Thurman said. "We would sync up with the (River Edge Park) trail and face Gougler Avenue."
That river front site comes with a caveat: the cost. Thurman said the estimated cost to move utility lines in order to get the house there is $50,000.
"It would be real expensive to move there," he said.
Fortunately for the group, numerous entities have pitched in thus far to help save the house.
The city has helped with in-kind donations of engineering, service and police staff to help orchestrate Saturday's move. Kent State University, which still owns the house, agreed to store it temporarily on its land and pledged $40,000 towards moving costs. The city also agreed to loan $15,000 to the effort.
And Stein House Movers, a third-generation family owned business, won't charge extra for the second move if a permanent location can be found, Thurman said. They also removed a 1924 addition from the back of the house that had to go before it could be moved.
"The original estimate was to move it down to North Water and not store it here temporarily," Thurman said. "This is the type of help we’re getting and we’re extremely grateful for it. Stein House Movers has bent over backwards to help us save this house. It’s unbelievable."
Carla Stein, whose husband moved dozens of houses during his career, was one of those early risers who watched as her son, Matt, moved the Wells Sherman House Saturday.
"I always come out for these," she said.
Jessie Humenik, a spokesperson for Stein House Movers, said they like to think of the business, which is a member of the International Association of Structural Movers, as preserving history by keeping houses out of landfills.
"We consider ourselves part of the recycling industry," she said.
The houseoriginally stood at the corner of Erie and South Water streets downtown where 157 Lounge stands today before it was moved to the Erie Street Site.
Thurman said the house stood through the Civil War, the era of abolition, the Gilded Age, World War I and World War II.
"This house is a sentinel for our history," he said. "That’s the point we’re getting across on this house. It’s not just an old house. It’s a symbol of continuous history."