Before Memorial Day, the historic Palmgren-O’Quinn home on South Channel Drive will embark on its maiden voyage to its new home beside the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and the Wrightsville Beach Visitors Center on Salisbury Street.
There the circa 1946 home, donated by current owners Mark and Debbie Mitchell, will serve as the regional headquarters for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a nonprofit statewide organization that works to safeguard the coastal rivers, creeks, sounds and beaches of North Carolina.
Mike Giles, coastal advocate for the NCCF, said the historic building would be much more than an office.
“We are in an office space now where we are cramped and out of room, and we really can’t … showcase what you can do on a lot as far as low-impact development, conserving rainwater and reducing stormwater runoff,” Giles said on Monday, March 11. “The space is also going to allow us to greatly expand our outreach in education programs to include not only environmental issues but also cultural and historical because this is a historical Wrightsville Beach building.”
Adding that the home’s ground floor would have to be converted to an open-air area because of the new site’s flood plain requirements, Giles said that space would also be available to the public for events like oyster roasts and weddings.
However, before all those things can happen the home must be picked up from its foundation and floated down Motts Channel, the Intracoastal Waterway and Lees Cut, and lifted onto its new site.
On April 1 the NCCF will assume ownership of the home, at which point the preparations for the move can begin. International Chimney Corporation, the same company that moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, will also move the Palmgren-O’Quinn home with the use of Atlantic Diving and Marine Contractors’ barge.
“I met with several movers and just was not comfortable with what they were saying about moving the house,” Giles said. “I heard about [International Chimney Corporation] and called them; they came down and said it was a piece of cake.”
The first step will be to tear out the home’s ground floor, set it on jacks and then move it onto the barge with motorized dollies. Giles said it would then take the barge 45 minutes to travel to the unloading site where it will be carted onto a flatbed truck and driven to the new site. The $130,000 process of moving the house would be done in a day, Giles said, but the entire reconstruction process would take a couple months before the home could begin its new life.