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Crowd watches workers move historic Abingdon house to new location
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Crowd watches workers move historic Abingdon house to new location

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ABINGDON, Va. — Delaney Dalton Cron stood guard Wednesday morning on Abingdon’s Park Street.

“It’s crazy out here,” Cron said. “I’m holding off the crowd right now. That’s my job.”

On Wednesday, Cron’s father, David Dalton, oversaw the move of the historic Hiram Dooley House from Pecan Street to Park Street.

The 171-year-old brick structure journeyed about 300 feet to a lot owned by Dalton. The move likely spared the house from the wrecking ball.

“It’s not every day that you see a house moving down Park Street,” said Dalton, 61.

Moving day events spanned from about 10:15 a.m. to 6:10 p.m. and attracted about 200 spectators to where the two-chimney house had stood on Pecan Street since 1849.

“Because it was such a slow move, a lot of them left,” Dalton said at 6 p.m.

About that same time, a few hours behind schedule, utility lines were put back in place and power was set to be restored in about an hour, Dalton said.

Cloudy skies had hung over moving day, though drizzle fell around 5 p.m.

Rain on Tuesday afternoon aborted a jump-start plan to begin moving the house by Wolfe House & Building Movers, a Pennsylvania-based firm.

Once the move began, Dalton smiled and met with the supportive crowd at mid-day Wednesday.

The businessman from Charlotte, North Carolina, is a part-time Abingdon resident. His wife, Jill, grew up in town. His mother-in-law, Lois Humphreys, is a former town mayor.

Moving the house faced “some surprises,” he said. “I still have to install a foundation. … I still have to renovate the house.”

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Yet just the move cost “way north” of $100,000, Dalton said.

“There’s been a lot of prayer,” he said. “I’m a man of faith.”

History on the move

Mary Dudley, a former director of the Virginia Highlands Festival, came to see the house move Wednesday morning.

Dudley called it “an outing” and added, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Near Dudley sat Greg Case, a retired band director from Holston High School. Case set up a folding chair on the front row scene along Pecan Street.

“It’s an event,” said Case, 70. “It’s a very interesting thing to watch. As you can see, these guys are working very diligently.”

Case’s friend, Bill Shanks, 76, of Bristol, Virginia, set up a chair next to him.

“To preserve something like this is recognition of our history,” Shanks said. “Too many things are being torn down just to make way for modern, throwaway buildings.”

What to do

Dalton stepped in to move the house when he discovered that Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church officials considered tearing down the structure, which belonged to the church, in favor of building a picnic pavilion.

So he came up with a house-moving plan that pleased church leaders.

“The church has bent over backwards,” Dalton said. “They helped me prepare the house for the move.”

Dalton has not pinpointed how he will use the home once it’s renovated at his lot on Park Street.

“He always has a vision,” said Cron, his daughter, who lives in Arizona. “Whatever it is, he’s going to keep this historic piece, like, as tight as possible.”

jtennis@bristolnews.com | 276-791-0709 | @BHC_Tennis

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