Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Fourth of Five

Phil Joy spent half the day, as Ricky would say, "yanking our Cheney".
Getting ready to leave the Gill Tract, Albany Village

The day started early, after a night of little sleep, with me scraping ice off the windshield of the car. It was cold and very clear, with 3/4 moon shining brightly in the clear, cloudless sky.

We got over to Albany Village at about 6 AM, and the house was sitting there, ready for its journey. We had a few quiet minutes alone with the house, taking some photos, taking some loose trim down, and getting ready for the move.

Then the crew arrived: first Dre, who helps guide the house, then Phil and Celeste and the rest of the crew, driving various trucks and vans and pickups.

After that, things started happening fast. The house was attached to a long bar, which was then attached to the back of the truck. Suddenly, the truck started moving forward, and the house responded, coming off the dirt and onto the blacktop. The house was on the road.

Tom and I both later said that this was the moment when we finally relaxed. Seeing the house start moving made us feel like everything was going to be okay.
Leaving Albany Village

And so it began: we went through Albany Village, then back into Berkeley on 8th Street. We had no trouble with parked cars, and we mostly glided down the streets, down Gilman, down 6th, and onto University.
Heading up University Avenue

We had some problems on University, but moved along at a walking pace for most of the trip. Then we turned south on Sacramento.

Sacramento is a four lane divided street, with lots of trees. The house fit down the street, but in several places we had to navigate through the trees, losing the occasional roof shingle in the process. Only one of the trees had to be trimmed, and Phil used his chainsaw to cut two relatively small branches free.

Avoiding the trees on Sacramento

As I walked in front of the house, I was on the phone with the Berkeley PD. Somehow, despite the fact that we had gotten permits for the move, gotten the Police and Fire Departments to sign off on the move, and called Dispatch the night before to let them know about the move, the Berkeley PD knew nothing about it. Julia had gone on ahead to see how Alcatraz and King Streets looked, and they were clogged with parked cars.

The Police responded incredibly well, assuring me that all the parked cars would be removed by the time we reached Alcatraz. When we finally turned onto Alcatraz, we saw all the cars had been moved: Julia had knocked on doors and told people of the move, the police had blasted their sirens to get neighbors to see what was going on, and only two cars ended up being towed.

We went quickly up Alcatraz, and as we turned onto King Street, we saw the whole street was empty. So we blasted down the last two blocks, and turned onto 62nd Street.

The neighbors were out in full force, everyone happy to see the project moving along and fascinated by the process. The house moved down 62nd and stopped in front of the Delaney House. Then Phil and the crew detached the truck, and attached the Cheney Cottage to the winch, and began to winch the house in to the lot.
Arriving on 62nd Street

At this point, a hook and ladder truck and an ambulance came around the corner of 62nd and Stanford, with the sirens blaring. Of course, no one from Dispatch had notified the Berkeley Fire Department either, so they went around the block, and then pulled up on the other side of the house, two doors down from the house across the street.
A fire truck arrives on 62nd Street

Jon and Emily Mires had brought their sons, Cole and Lane, to see the show, and the boys were in heaven: a house move, a fire truck and an ambulance!
Watching with the Mires family as the house moves onto the lot

Slowly, the house moved back onto the lot. By 12:30, the second floor of the Cheney Cottage was in place on 62nd Street.

The Cheney Cottage is moved in front of the Delaney House

Diane Dew was there and took a slew of wonderful photos - you can see them on Diane's Facebook page.

So we're tired, we walked for miles, and we're happy. The Cheney Cottage is halfway there.
The Second Floor of the Cheney Cottage, now on 62nd Street


  1. A monstrous MAZEL TOV to you and Tom. This is so amazing. I'm so happy for you and just a bit worried about you starting to solder your fingers together again.

    Overcoming the Berkeley bureaucracy is an accomplishment much like climbing Everest sans sherpas. Just less altitude sickness.


  2. Well done! As always Mssrs. Belser and White are truly inspirational. I love the way that you are shuffling houses like 3D tetris and densifying neighborhoods. Keep it up and Ira Glass (the new Oprah) will be calling to document the story of Berkeley's creative reuse developers.

    FYI: If you are interested in building your house moving empire in Wisconsin...

    You guys are the coolest.

    Jamie and Michele

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