Historic house relocated for Providence Park expansion

July 05. 2012 12:00PM - Last modified: July 05. 2012 12:24PM

Tim Stuhldreher

Workers from Wolfe House & Building Movers this morning rolled a 19th-century brick house about 300 feet to its new location.

Workers from Wolfe House & Building Movers position the historic Harnish House at its new location after moving it about 300 feet this morning to make way for Willow Valley Retirement Communities' planned Providence Park expansion. Photo/Tim Stuhldreher

The move of the historic Harnish House on the Willow Valley Retirement Communities property was completed in a few hours, though preparations began about two weeks ago, Wolfe spokesman Kendal Siegrist said.

Willow Valley is relocating the building to make way for its Providence Park expansion, spokeswoman Roseanne Macrina said. Plans are to use the building for locker rooms, meeting rooms and storage space supporting a clubhouse and pool area.

The clubhouse will have a bowling alley, video arcade and "intergenerational" activities that grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together, she said.

The 400- to 500-ton building's brick walls are load bearing, which made the move trickier, Siegrist said. Workers inserted steel beams beneath the walls, then raised the building with hydraulic jacks. They then transported the building on hydraulic power dollies.

Though somewhat larger than average, the job was not out of the ordinary for Wolfe, which is based in Bernville, Bucks County, Siegrist said.

Workers now will place wood blocking under the house, then build the foundation upward to fit it. That ensures an even distribution of load and minimizes the chance of cracking, Siegrist said.

"If you want a perfect job, you always run the foundation up to it and fit the building," he said.