Sunday, April 25, 2010

Getting Ready on 62nd Street

This weekend, we went back to 62nd Street, to start prepping for the next phase of the project.

With the two halves of the Cheney Cottage now tucked away in Albany, it's time to turn our attention back to the lot on 62nd Street. The biggest job to do is to cut down trees - there are about 7 trees that have to be removed in order to move the Delaney House back to it's future location.

So yesterday, Tom and I started cutting down the trees. We bought a new chainsaw (our old one died after cutting down the willow tree on Parker Street), and this time, Tom went for a better one and got a Husqvarna. Tom is never happier than when he's reading a new owner's manual for a new tool.

Then we started cutting down the trees. We cut down a multi-stalk cherry tree, two acacias and a couple other decorative trees. We also cut back roses and other bushes, slowly clearing the space where the Delaney House will stand.

Today, we worked on cutting down more trees, and Sarah came over to help me with the fireplace. We tore out the old hearth, and then filled in the fireplace and hearth, and tiled them.

We also met with a guy who owns a portable saw mill. We are having the two huge redwood trees in the front yard cut down, and he will come and mill the wood into lumber. We should be able to have enough lumber to replace all the missing siding, make new redwood floors for the new downstairs, and make a deck and fences.

Next weekend, we'll finish the trees, and get the house ready to move. We expect to have our permits soon, and will be ready to move the house back on the lot. Then, the Cheney Cottage will be moved over - first the second floor, which will be lifted up in the air, then the first floor will be brought over and slipped in under it.

Things are moving along. We can't wait to have both houses on their new foundations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Second of Five

Tonight I walked from Bancroft and Piedmont to University and San Pablo. A distance of about 3 miles. Backwards.

The Cheney Cottage Second Floor, up on the dollies and ready to roll

We moved the second floor of the Cheney Cottage tonight, and it was quite an event. Despite the fact that the City of Berkeley had given us a permit to move the house, there were no police officers or tow trucks available to help when people parked in the temporary no parking zones. So although we moved the house up the hill to Piedmont at 6 PM, it took until 8 before the cars were moved. The Berkeley PD clearly had heard nothing of this move, despite all the signatures we had gotten from Planning, Traffic etc. So even though we had a permit to be on the streets from 6 to 9 30, we didn't get to start until 8 PM.

Starting the move

But we finally got underway at, and it went incredibly smoothly. Tom rode in our car behind the Cheney Cottage, and helped stop traffic. I walked in front of the Cottage with Phil, and we walked backwards most of the way, watching the house bearing down on us.

Because we had cut the eaves off the house, the second floor was actually about 2 feet slimmer than the first, so it sent down the streets with very little difficulty. And although there was traffic, we ran into very few problems. Most of the people were more interested in what we were doing than irritated by delays, and everything went well. Kevin Hufferd had arranged for us to have a Campus Police escort, which was a huge help.

The Cheney Cottage at Shattuck and University - with the lights on

When we got to the Gill Tract at Albany Village, the house bogged down in the mud, so it is sitting outside the gate tonight. Tomorrow, Phil and crew will jack it up and get it out of the mud, and pull it the last 50 feet into its temporary holding area, next to the first floor. We'll also haul away the last of the debris at the old College Avenue site, so the University can start their construction work.

The Cheney Cottage turning east on Gilman Street

At the gate, we found a surprise: Kevin Hufferd had left us a congratulatory note and two bottles of champagne. Because tomorrow is Phil's birthday, we had made brownies and brought a candle - so we have an impromptu celebration, with food and drink.

So now we've done 2 of the 5 moves. When the City of Berkeley gets around to giving us the permits, we'll move the Delaney House to the back of the lot, then move the two pieces of the Cheney Cottage to 62nd Street, and put them back together.

Sweating with the Oldies

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain. It has stopped, but we got quite a bit of rain during the night.

Yesterday, Eric and his crew cut the eaves off the second floor of the house. It turns out they will be easy to replace - they are sistered on to the roof rafters, and should go back in place with little trouble. The sheathing on top of them is largely rotted, so it needed to be replaced anyway.

So now the second floor is sitting at the site, with gapping holes in the roof (covered by plastic, we hope), waiting to be put on the dollies today and then hauled to Albany Village. This evening, starting at 6 PM. Possibly in the rain.

I'm starting to think that maybe we're too old for this level of stress. But the train has left the station, and the second floor move (second of five) is on for today. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Morning After

Just as a coda to yesterday's event: The first floor of the Cheney Cottage is safely on the Gill Tract down at Albany Village. It seems so different than the parking lot where it has lived for so many years.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The First of Five

Today, we moved the first floor of the Cheney Cottage to Albany Village. It was a long day.

A couple days ago, Kevin Hufferd said "Phil Joy is a force of nature". That phrase kept ringing in my ears today, as I watched Phil make this move happen. It was incredible to watch.

Tom and I got started at 4 30 AM, when our alarm went off. Tom had slept most of the night, but I had been up until about 4, so I was in fine fettle. While I slapped myself awake after breakfast, Tom went and drove the route, to make sure everything was clear, all our no parking signs were in place, and the house was ready to move.

We got up to the University around 6, and the move was underway. Phil had the truck hooked up to the first floor, and the house was already moving.

Tis is the house going up the steep hill from its original location to Piedmont Avenue.

The house makes the turn onto Piedmont and leaves the University grounds.

Tom in his element. The house had to zig zag across the streets to avoid obstacles, and Tom helped indicate how far the house was from various places.

Passing the Memorial Stadium.

Beginning the slow trip down Bancroft.

Once we got to Shattuck and then University, we picked up the pace.

Coming down University was amazing. It was about 8 AM, and it was incredible to see how many people tried to sneak in behind us, in front of the "Wide Load" van. Johno and I kept asking, "Where do these people think they'll get to go, once they pull in behind the house?"

Tom scoping out the routes in West Berkeley.

This truck was too close to the house, so Phil and his crew jacked it up, slid it over closer to the curb, and let it down.

Another narrow area forced the house off the street onto the sidewalk and dirt. Phil Joy doesn't let anything stop the house move.

The house has arrived at Albany Village.

Johno and I help hold a street sign away from the house as it squeezes through.

Phil is amazing to watch. He is not supervising a crew - he is right in there with them, working hard, hauling cribbing, cutting down signs, doing the hard work. He has a lot of energy.

Tom at the fence, behind which the house will reside for the next couple weeks.

Putting on the tarp in preparation for its stay in Albany.

So the first of the five moves are done. On Tuesday at 6 PM, we move the second floor down to Albany Village. Then, when the City of Berkeley finally deigns to give us the permits, we will move the Delaney House back on the lot. Move number 4 will be the second floor coming back from Albany, all the way across town to our lot, and then lifted up high on cribbing. and the final move will be bringing the first floor across town, and slipping it in under the second floor. The second floor is then lowered gently down onto the first floor, and the studs are reattached.
And then the fun begins: patching plaster, refinishing floors, fixing any damage, and rewiring and re-plumbing the house. Plus, roofing and a new foundation.

Tomorrow should be a quiet day. Then Tuesday, we start again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Friday was the day when the house first began to move, by coming off the foundation and sliding back. Here are some pictures as the Cheney Cottage first started moving off the site where it had been since 1902.

The first floor begins to slide out from under the second floor, which is suspended 15 feet up on cribbing

The first floor has been pulled back about half way.

Another view as the first floor slides back.

More progress

Tom stands in front of the remains of the chimney, with the second floor overhead

The first floor front windows, underneath the second floor back bedroom.

The first floor is almost out from under the second floor.

The first floor is off the site, sitting on the parking lot, waiting to be put on dollies.

Phil and his crew start the slow process of lowering the second floor down to the ground.

Today, the first floor is being loaded onto dollies, and the second floor is being lowered down. Then Sunday morning at 5 AM, the first floor will be hooked up to a truck and towed down to Albany Village. The dollies will be removed from the first floor, and hauled back up to 2243 College. On Monday and Tuesday, the second floor will be loaded onto dollies, and at 6 PM on Tuesday, the second floor begins the trip down to Albany Village. By Tuesday evening, the Cheney Cottage will be in Albany.

The trip from 2243 College to Monroe Street in Albany is somewhat nerve wracking. First, the house has to climb up the hill to Gayley, then make the turn onto Bancroft. On Bancroft, there is a point where a temporary construction sidewalk blocks part of the street. We measured, and the eaves for the second floor will clear the top of the sidewalk enclosure by about 3 inches. The house then continues down to Shattuck Avenue, turns right, and goes down to University (on one block, we'll have to go into oncoming traffic to avoid a narrow squeeze between two traffic signals). Then we turn onto University, and we should have smooth sailing down University and down 6th Street. Finally, we turn onto Harrison for one block (which will be tight) and then a left onto 8th, and down into Albany Village.

We hope that we'll be able to sleep well on Tuesday night, with both pieces of the Cheney Cottage safely in Albany Village.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Get Set....

So much is happening, there is little need for words:

This is the Cheney Cottage, right before we took off the fire escape and finished removing the exterior trim.

This is where the old fireplace was - we broke through the drywall and pulled out the chimney

A man and his truck - Tom gets ready to haul away the chimney bricks I stacked in the truck

We bought this truck when we were working on the Old Magahey Place. How could we resist a vehicle with "Fun and Mud" tires?

As we pulled the bricks off of the stack Robyn had made, and put them in the truck, we found a local resident. We put him under the oak tree that was in the Cheney's front yard.

Taking down the horrible florescent light fixtures - no way those are going to 62nd Street.

When we opened the walls of the bathroom, we found that there had been a great hive of bees. They left behind their honey.

The stacks of cribbing grow next to the house - getting ready to lift the second floor off

One of the beams stuck through the crawl space, that will lift the first floor and slide it out (once the second floor is lifted up)

The first beam through the second floor. Note that the railings on the landing are gone - everything that sticks up above the second floor had to be removed.

The second floor being lifted

The north side of the house, with the stairwell window removed, as the second floor lifts off

The second floor lifts higher. The front porch is also removed, and the siding in the crawlspace, revealing the sheer walls installed by Noel when he redid the foundation.

Next, the house has to break free of the foundation, and then the first floor will be slid out, lifted up, and put on wheels - and driven off to Albany. The second floor will follow the next day.

Stay tuned.