Yes, you read that correctly: We moved a house, and it wasn't a small playhouse either! We, Community enCompass, with the help of the City of Muskegon, (including the City Manager, the Planning Department, the Department of Public Works/Forestry Department, and the Police Department), and Consumers Energy, moved an entire 5 bedroom, pristine, Craftsman style home from Nims to Nelson.
So, what's the story? This home stood on Ireland Street in the Nims Neighborhood for nearly 100 years, directly behind the Nims Elementary school. The Nims School closed in 2012 and sat empty until AvaSure, a Medical Tech company based in Belmont, saw it as an opportunity to move some of their operations to a thriving community. A few years later AvaSure bought the house on Ireland to create space where the neighborhood park and community garden could be moved.
As Avasure began to redevelop the Nims school, Community enCompass and Avasure began to build a relationship that has resulted in AvaSure investing heavily into the core-city neighborhoods. Through supporting the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), donating space for a third McLaughlin Grows Farm site and by providing zero-interest construction loans to assist in our housing rehab program, AvaSure has helped us build capacity and have more impact in core-city Muskegon. They even encourage their staff to get involved in the community through volunteer initiatives with McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm and the Rehabs.
In May, the house was due to be demolished. Kimi, our rehab specialist was given the opportunity to recycle some of the original trim, in hopes it could serve a new home through our rehab program. At least that was the plan.
Kimi went in expecting to find some good wood, maybe some useful cabinets, possibly a piece or two of original trim, but what Kimi found blew her mind. “We have to save it!" Kimi said in awe as she wandered around this pristine example of a 1920’s craftsman's house. “It was stunning, to say the least”, says Kimi, as she excitedly recants the story. “Immediately, I got on the phone with Dan Deitz, the best house mover around,threw some numbers around and started dreaming about the possibilities. Once we had a solid cost we went to the Community enCompass board to convince them that saving this home fit within our vision for the core-city neighborhoods.” And it did, the board gave the green light and the next month was chaos!
AvaSure approved the plan, but with one caveat, the house had to be gone in 45 days. Kimi had never moved a house, and so relied heavily on Deitz House Movers to help lead the project forward. “They really made this project happen”, says Kimi, “by constantly adjusting their schedule so that they would be available and ready with such a short time frame. These projects usually take several months, not 45 days!”
Today, after some hiccups, a few false starts, and a scorching June moving day, the house now sits on Webster Ave. The foundation is being dug, and the house will soon be set to stand at its new location. By the end of the summer, this house will become a home again
Community enCompass is passionate about housing: Affordable Housing, Historic Housing, Missing Middle Housing. We have been investing in the core city's housing for the past 30 years, rehabbing the worst houses on the block to help create high-quality, affordable homes to our neighbors in McLaughlin and Nelson. We are investing in a quadplex to be newly constructed this summer to help provide reasonably priced, quality apartments, something missing in the core city neighborhoods. We have now moved a historic home to a plot that has been empty since its last home became abandoned and then demolished. All of these projects have been done with the support and partnership of The City of Muskegon. As Kimi puts it, “We moved this to the Nelson Neighborhood in support of the City's current infill focus. While we are excited that many lots will have new homes on them soon, we think this was an opportunity to be a part of the infill and save a house. New housing is great, but this old house is a real beauty too, and others like it need to be saved!”.
At Community enCompass, we are excited for all the new development and opportunity coming to Muskegon, but we believe and continually push for this development to be mindful of what is already here: the history, the gifts, the passion, and skills of Muskegon's neighbors, and their homes! “Families lived in that house,” says Kimi. “The walls have hundreds of stories that have directly impacted our community. We should care about that. We should hold onto that while we welcome new things. There has to be a balance. It can't be just holding onto what was and refusing to embrace change. It can't be just development and change, without a deep respect for the strong foundation that the new development is being built upon.”
Just like developing a community, moving a house is a team effort. “Everyone had a hand in it and was personally invested. This was really all of our project” says Kimi, and our hope is that as Muskegon grows, that all neighbors and all neighborhoods grow too, as one team, one community, building community together.
Community enCompass is passionate about housing. To find out more check out our housing page!