For nearly 100 years, the Muhs family farmhouse stood facing east onto what is now South 1st Street in Eldridge.
On Thursday, the big, three-story house was pulled across the farm to a new, north-facing foundation where it will be the first home for sale in a subdivision of 38 villa-style homes.
A 10-acre parcel of the former Muhs farm is being developed by Colin Woods of Diamond Builders. Rather than demolish the old house with the open staircase and hardwood floors, Woods decided to move it and make it part of The Villas at Century Farm.
Moving an 85-ton house is something of a routine job for Chris Reighard and his crew of three from Goodwin House Moving of Washington, Iowa. The company specializes in moving large buildings and has been involved in numerous Quad-City area projects over the years. One departure from routine on Thursday was the person behind the wheel — Reighard's 12-year-old son, Colben, who was learning the family business during a break from school. (He did well, his dad said.)
Several dozen onlookers came and went throughout the two hours the company worked on the move. Among vehicles pulled over to the side of the road about four blocks south of North Scott High School were two vans from Grand Haven Retirement Community, Eldridge.
Moving a house takes the proper equipment and know-how, and Reighard has both. Work began Wednesday when the home was jacked up off its foundation and five large steel beams were slid into place underneath, extending out on each side. Rollers were placed under the steel extensions and the house was slid off the foundation and onto a "dolly" consisting of a configuration of tires and two steel beams.
On Thursday morning, with the loaded dolly hooked up to a semi tractor, work resumed to pull the house up a slope to the southeast corner of the property, a distance less than a city block. At one point, the semi's wheels began to slip on the wet ground. Anticipating this might happen, Reighard hooked the semi to a piece of equipment called a crawler from Diercks Ltd., of Davenport, that pulled both the semi and the house up the rest of the hill.
From there, the four-man Goodwin team could get the house maneuvered into place next to the foundation. By the end of Thursday, they had done all the preparatory work needed to set the house on its new foundation Friday morning.
The 115-acre Century Farm owned by Norman Muhs and two siblings went up for auction in 1999, and 100 acres was purchased by the Mel Foster Co., according to Quad-City Times archives. About 15 acres, including the house and several out buildings, were purchased by Norman and Lois Muhs, who continued to live there. Norman Muhs died in 2001 and Lois died in 2012. The two remaining outbuildings, a barn and a machine shed, will be salvaged by the Carlson's Barnwood Co., of Cambridge, Illinois. Wood from the barn is already spoken for, said Realtor R. Scott Case.
Ground-breaking for other homes in subdivision will begin in July, Woods said. The development is his first entry into the Eldridge market.
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