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House escapes wrecking ball

Couple salvages and moves good home


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The house was towed down Culver Highway before sunrise on Sunday.It’s not every day somebody gives away a house, but Deschutes Valley Water District recently did in an attempt to save a good house from the wrecking ball.

In the wee morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 22, the house was towed through town and across two major highways by Arsenault Construction of Bend to its new home.

“We had been trying to get rid of it for quite a while,” Said DVWD manager Ed Pugh, noting the home was built in the 1950s by Leroy and Ione Allen on property next to the water district office on Old Culver Highway.

by: SUSAN MATHENY - The vacant home was located on Deschutes Valley Water District property along the Old Culver Highway.Years ago, the Allen’s sold the property to DVWD with the contingency that they could continue living there. Leroy Allen eventually passed away, and his wife moved to an assisted living facility in the Willamette Valley, leaving an empty house.

“The DVWD board didn’t want the district to be a landlord, so I contacted Kevin O’Meara, a local contractor with experience in moving houses. He didn’t want it, because it would cost too much to move, and suggested we give it away,” Pugh said.

Pugh offered it to Habitat For Humanity, which also rejected it because it’s outdated two-prong wiring would cost too much to bring up to code.

“So, the house sat in limbo for six months, then the board said to get rid of it,” Pugh said.

In the meantime, O’Meara mentioned the house to Caron and Darryl Smith, who had property on South Adams Drive with a trailer, and were looking to upgrade.

“We gave them the house, but they’re paying a king’s ransom to move it,” Pugh said, adding, “We came within an eyelash of having the fire department do a controlled burn on it, and I’m just tickled it’s not going to be destroyed.”

Caron Smith said they live in the country, but own property in town with trailer house rentals. However, the trailer roofs were deteriorating and they learned it would cost more to reroof them than the value of the trailers.

“We were looking at other options and were interested in salvaging a home,” she said.

While talking to O’Meara about the salvaging idea, he told them he knew of a house, and said the owner wanted it moved.

“The DVWD Board said they’d give us the house if we’d pay to move it,” she said, and a deal was struck.

Around the same time, the Smiths had also put their farm up for sale, and it sold – leaving them with no place to live. Luckily, the California buyer agreed to let them rent the farmhouse for 10 months, giving them time to fix up the salvaged house.

The Smiths both work for School District 509-J. Caron Smith teaches P.E. at Madras Primary and Darryl Smith is 509-J’s director of operations. Since he is deeply involved with the construction of the new school in Warm Springs and Performing Arts/Athletic Center in Madras, it was up to Caron Smith to make the arrangements.

“This project is actually mine. I met with all the contractors and inspectors and got the permits,” she said noting, “Everyone has been really good about working with us on permits and everything.”

Instead of using it for a rental, she said, “We’re going to live in it. This will give us the school year to fix it up. Moving it is just the beginning.”

The home, built in 1955, is an Art Deco style house. While the Smiths will be downsizing from a 3,000- to a 1,500-square-foot dwelling, she said it will be more convenient with less driving time to get to work.

The moving crew has experience with moving historic buildings, and in one big project, relocated 10 houses in the Vancouver, Wash., area.

With the house in its new location, a crew will start building a foundation under it, then upgrading the electrical wiring, plumbing, and insulation.

“It’s amazing – everything has just fallen into place for us,” Caron Smith said.



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