A historic bungalow on Granite Street was yanked off its foundation Wednesday and dragged on a big trailer to an adjacent sliver of city park land, where it will stay for six months so the owner can build a new Craftsman-style house on the spot.
The small, old house, built about 1908, will then be transplanted to the backyard, under three giant redwoods, for use as an accessory unit.
It is notable as the spot where a classic children’s story in the “Raggedy Ann and Andy” series was penned in 1923 by Johnny Gruelle.
Giddy neighbors, hugging, laughing, handing out coffee and shooting video, gathered and watched as Doc’s House Moving of Central Point smoothly rolled the house onto Granite, then onto the grassy lot next door — lifting overhead wires a few inches for clearance.
Owner Mardi Mastain says the lot presents special difficulty with its 25-percent slope and big trees, needing much “geo-tech” work. The new house will be single-story, with bedrooms in the lower level (basement). In six months, the old house will be set on piers under the redwoods, but will be positioned to avoid their roots, she said.
Mastain, who has lived in the bungalow since 2003, said the city, mainly the Parks and Recreation Department, was “super helpful,” in large part because the project saved a historic house. Amy Gunter of Rogue Planning and Development did the planning for the complex project. Peter Cipes is the designer.
A history written by Kernan Turner for Jefferson Public Radio’s “As It Was” describes the Granite Street connection: “Before Barbie, Raggedy Ann was the most popular doll in America. The floppy rag doll with red hair and painted smile was first stitched together for his daughter in 1917 by Johnny B. Gruelle of Norwalk, Connecticut.
“A children’s book author and illustrator, Gruelle spent 1923 in Ashland, where he completed work on an illustrated book titled 'Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees,' published in 1924.
“The Gruelle family stayed in a Granite Street guest house belonging to a friend, Emma Oeder. The Ashland book’s illustrations were completed at Oeder’s cabin at Lake of the Woods.”
The wrinkled knees came from a doll at the Lake of the Woods store, where Gruelle spotted just such a tattered doll.
The house is known as the Barnthouse Bungalow and sits in the Skidmore Academy historic district.
House mover Doc Chaplin said, “Everything went perfect, just great. We had to get going and get her done.”
Chaplin, who has been moving houses for 30 years, said many people are moving a house to the corner of a large lot and will put up five homes in the newly opened space.
“It’s very profitable. We keep busy. We also do a lot of quake-proofing in the process.”
He charges between $15,000 and $100,000 depending on how complicated the job is, how far he has to drag the house and how many wires are in the way. Mastain’s job cost $29,000.
— John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.