Bluffton resident receives approval to relocate Graves House

dburley@islandpacket.comNovember 6, 2013 

Bluffton resident Garfield Moss will be allowed to move the century-old Graves House from Calhoun Street to property he owns on Lawrence and Wharf streets.

Moss, an unsuccessful candidate in Tuesday's Town Council election, won permission to move the structure Wednesday night following a unanimous vote by the town's Historic Preservation Committee. No further approval for the move is needed.

"I'm very excited," Moss said after the meeting. "We'll start after the holidays. Hopefully people will enjoy this -- this house means a lot."

Moss said he plans to rent the home once it's been relocated. He envisions it as one of several for rent on his five-acre property, which already includes his house, two smaller homes and two carriage houses, he said.

"What we're doing is creating our own little Bluffton," he said.

Moss said he's paid between $10,000 to $12,000 planning the relocation. He estimates another $20,000 could be spent on the move itself.

"It's a bigger project then we thought, sure," he said. "We thought we'd come in here and move a deteriorating house. It's been a little more than that, but we're happy with it."

The committee welcomed Moss' proposal and seemed intrigued at the prospect of watching the historic home wheeled to a new Old Town location.

"I like it. I'm excited. I want to be there with my camera," said member Nick Maxim, who is also president of the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society. "This has our full support."

THE MOVE

Moss' proposal calls for the work to be divided into two phases: Relocation and rehabilitation.

Movers will start by deconstructing the house, salvaging the doors, windows, framing, roofing and fireplace mantels that have not rotted.

After bracing the house with two temporary 10-foot walls and steel beams under the floors, workers will cut the house in half and move each piece by truck to the new location, the proposal says.

An addition on the back of the house will also be moved to the site, Moss said.

At its new location, workers will then reassemble the house with a mix of new and salvaged material -- using as much original material as possible, according to town staff.

Moss has until June 30 to complete the relocation, according to the town, and must finish rehabilitation by June 30, 2015.

"It's been heartbreaking to watch this house go into disrepair," committee chairman James Brown said. "If there is a chance for this house to be brought back to life and for a family to live in it, I'm for it."

Brown added he hopes Moss will photograph and document the house before it is deconstructed.

THE BACKGROUND

The house is currently owned by the Bluffton United Methodist Church, which purchased it last summer.

William Court, a local architect and the church's long-term planner, said United Methodist does not expect compensation to relocate the house.

"From the church's perspective, this is certainly an opportunity to renew the Graves House to its original intent," he said at Wednesday's meeting.

Court said the church will build a community outreach center on the property the Graves House occupied.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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