Kudos to Bluffton resident Garfield Moss for his interest in moving the century-old Graves House from Calhoun Street to property he owns on Lawrence and Wharf streets Built in 1908 by a ship's carpenter from Maine, the Graves House is one of more than 80 contributing structures in Bluffton's historic district.
Town Council has agreed to chip in $8,000 to determine whether moving the house is possible and, if so, to develop a plan for bracing it during the trip. The town's involvement with the project should stop there. Going forward, the project must remain that of a resident, not turned into a town-financed endeavor.
The town's Historic Preservation Committee recently approved Moss' plan to deconstruct the historic house, brace it with temporary walls and steel beams, cut it in half and move it by truck, piece by piece, to the new Old Town site. Once reassembled, Moss said he plans to rent it.
He will have until June 30 to complete the relocation. Rehabilitation must wrap up by June 30, 2015.
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There's inherent danger in big projects like this. An old home in such a state of disrepair could crumble during a move, and the work to bring it up to livable standards could far exceed estimates. Plus, there's no guarantee suitable renters will be found.
Previous owners of the home found structural flaws as well as termite and water damage, derailing their plans to convert the house into offices.
And neighbors wonder if there will be anything left of the original house once the deteriorating pieces are removed.
For these reasons, it's best that the town limit its involvement.
Still, we are pleased that an individual has shown interest in giving the Graves House a second life.
If successful, Moss' efforts will save a historic structure that was only recently slated for destruction. Earlier this year, the town agreed to allow the house's current owner, the Bluffton United Methodist Church, to tear it down despite objections from town staff and the director of the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society.
The move will also benefit the church. Its leaders plan to build a community outreach center on the property where the house now sits.
Everyone wins if the house is moved. Our fingers are crossed that it's in good enough shape to withstand the trip.