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Progress continues on historic home’s relocation

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POSTED: January 1, 2012 7:30 a.m.
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The Mills House no longer sits on the foundation it has rested on for 125 years. A large section was separated from the rest of the house Tuesday as part of the process of moving the home, and it was lifted off its foundation Friday. The second floor soon will be taken off, and all three sections are scheduled to be moved Jan. 13, pending Georgia Department of Transportation approval. (Randy C. Murray)

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Progress continues on the historic Mills House’s move to its new home in Long County. Its carport has already been removed and taken to another site. A 10-foot by 35-foot section on the right face of the old home has been separated from the rest of the house and laid on long steel I-beams and wooden blocks.
“I’ve seen it sitting here for many, many years,” said Jim Sutton, a local carpenter working with T & T Home Moving and Heavy Rigging Company, which has contracted with Pastor Tim and Catherine Parrish of Trinity Baptist Church to move the Mills House to their land just over the county line. “I hate it that the (Midway) Museum didn’t get it, but I also see it as a blessing to Miss Catherine. She really loves this house.”
Sutton, who describes himself as an Army brat who grew up in this area from age 12, said he’d been out of work for a while as a carpenter/construction worker. As a member of Trinity Baptist Church, he said he was glad for the opportunity to help his pastor and for the opportunity to work.
Inside the home, Sutton pointed out the century-old locks on some of the doors and the single-pane windows. He also noted that the outside walls, especially on the bottom floor, have no real insulation.
The home originally was built in 1886 as a single-floor home. About 30 years later, a second floor was added and the kitchen was attached to the rest of the house. Plumbing and other modern conveniences were later added. Sutton said there is some insulation in the outside walls on the second floor, and although there is no insulation in the bottom floor’s walls, insulation can be seen under the bottom floor.
“I think Miss Catherine has some plans to add on a little to the kitchen to make it bigger and update the kitchen fixtures and appliances, but they’re planning to pretty much keep the house as you see it,” Sutton said. “They’ve trusted the Lord to make this happen, and it’s happening. I’m glad to have some part in helping them.”
Tim LaRue Jr., project manager and co-owner, said special care had to first be taken to shore up the 125-year-old chimney before lifting the house off its foundation. He and his employees will start separating the second floor from the rest of the house after first taking a few days off to enjoy the New Year.
“This is a family business,” said LaRue, noting that he’s been called “Little Tim” since he was a boy, even though he’s grown and much taller and bigger than his dad. “I’m the third generation. My grandfather and his brother started this company in 1952.”
LaRue said his father was only two years old when his grandfather, Phil LaRue, moved his family from New York to Green Cove Springs, Fla., about 25 miles south of Jacksonville. His grandfather and granduncle, who was stationed at nearby Camp Blanding at the time, soon started the house-moving company, which specializes in moving historic buildings.
Notwithstanding bad weather, Parrish said work on getting the Mills House ready to move is still on schedule, and he hopes to have it in three separate pieces by Jan. 8.
“Right now, we’re looking at moving it on Friday the 13th, starting at 9 o’clock in the morning,” Parrish said, explaining that the scheduled move date is only tentative because the Georgia Department of Transportation has not yet issued approval. However, the move time is fixed. “We figure starting the move after 9 o’clock will allow all the soldiers and other folks to get to work so we’ll have less traffic. We’re looking at getting it moved in a two-hour window. That way, it’ll be moved before lunchtime traffic starts picking up.”
Be sure to watch for more articles in the Coastal Courier about the Mills House move, particularly the Parrishes’ connection with another historic home, the Jordye Bacon House.

 

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