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The ground floor of the Commander's House makes the turn onto Hoskins Road from Kings Valley Highway Sunday. The house previously sat on Pedee Creek Road.
October 23, 2012
PEDEE -- "It's going to be strange to look over there and not see a house," Judy Guida said early Sunday morning.
It was still dark out when Guida and Jennifer Vandenberg arrived to watch "moving day" for the historic Commander's House. Until last weekend, it used to sit across the gravel road from Guida's rural property off Pedee Creek Road.
Crews from Chris Arsenault LLC, the contractors transporting the house to Fort Hoskins Historic Park to the south, crawled beneath the home for final prep work. By now, the pre-Civil War structure that had been constructed at Fort Hoskins by eventual Gen. Phil Sheridan in 1857, had been split at its first and second floors and situated on giant dollies.
"I'm thrilled, overjoyed that it's happening," said Vandenberg, whose family bought the home and the 84-acre farm it sits on in 1997. She and her husband, Chris, lived there until May 2011, then donated it to Benton County's park system.
"It was lovely and small," she said. "But there was no insulation and it got cold really fast ... we didn't have the money to overhaul it.
"I would have felt really bad if it ended up having to be torn down," she added.
Rear tires spinning, a semi truck hitched to the bottom story of the home rocked it back and forth, and eventually, up and out of its footprint.
That was the start of how a slow sojourn south over the Benton County line began. Despite the chill and rain, people parked along different spots of Kings Valley Highway -- cameras or lawn chairs in tow -- to watch the spectacle of a home the width of the road being moved.
A celebration, attended by members of Civil War re-enactment groups, was held at Fort Hoskins that morning to commemorate the return. Two-and-a-half hours after leaving Pedee, the dwelling arrived at an unpaved road just below the park.
"It's taken a little bit, but we're glad it finally happened," said Cindy Strutton, a member of the Northwest Civil War Council.
Instead of taking the main entrance, contractors are using a winch to pull the home up to its new location -- actually, the spot where the structure was originally erected in 1857 -- beneath the park shelter area.
There's little rest for the weary, said Ellen Tappon of the Alliance for Recreation and Natural Areas, which helped fund the move. The goal now is a full restoration of the home, which means more fundraising.
A concrete foundation will be poured during the next few weeks, and the first and second floors reassembled. The house must be weatherproofed and assessed by archaeologists for restoration. It will ultimately be open for tours.
"We'll capture a broad swath of Oregon history," Tappon said. "It's exciting."