The Wilkins House

The Wilkins House, raised and resting on beams at its soon to be former location facing Augusta Street.

The Wilkins House, raised and resting on beams at its soon to be former location facing Augusta Street.

Later this month, an 800-ton Italianate villa built in 1876 for millionaire merchant William T. Wilkins will be moved about two city blocks from its present Augusta Street location to a freshly cleared lot at the corner of Mills and Elm. Pennsylvania-based Wolfe House & Building Movers has lifted “The Wilkins House” onto a set of massive steel I-beams where it now floats six feet above the ground, a most peculiar sight.

Nearly all of the $360,000 needed to pay for the move has been pledged or received and two routes are possible, one taking 12 hours to complete, the other four. The shorter route would cause fewer people to be left without electricity for less time. It also would require the removal of two massive pin oaks said to be within a decade or so of death by natural causes, but come on. Killing historic trees in the name of historic preservation? That makes my face itch. And why was this decision left to the last minute?

Questionable priorities aside, likewise any debate about whether this is a the best use of treasure in a city where some people still live under a bridge, the move promises to be jaw-dropping. Let’s just hope the dropping stops there. Click the image at right to view at higher resolution.