Lumina News file photo
Ken Marks of TKF House Movers directs his driver as the crew moves a house from Parmele Boulevard to Pender County on Sept. 3, 2008.
For many, the thought of moving residence is a daunting task with boxes of clothes and the other assorted items a home accumulates. The North Carolina Coastal Federation, however, is tasked with moving the residence itself when the organization’s new regional headquarters will be uprooted and moved from South Channel Drive to Salisbury Street.
To handle the project of relocating the historic Palmgren-O’Quinn house, the NCCF has hired Expert House Movers of Virginia Beach to operate the ground transportation and Atlantic Diving and Marine Contractors of Wilmington to barge the house by water around to the other side of Harbor Island.
With nearly 60 years of experience in moving structures from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to a home on Figure Eight Island, the four Matyiko brothers, who own and operate Expert House Movers, have relocated hundreds of structures.
“In my lifetime, I quit counting,” said company president Jimmy Matyiko. “We used to do about 100 a year for about 40 years.”
Started by the brothers’ father, John Matyiko, in 1954, the company now operates from Virginia Beach, Maryland and Missouri.
Of all of the projects Jimmy Matyiko has worked on, he said moving the Palmgren-O’Quinn home would be a unique challenge because of the need to move the home by barge. After his crew has removed the structure’s bottom floor and hoisted it onto motorized dollies, Matyiko said the toughest aspect of the project would be getting the home on and off the barge.
Kevin Walker, Wrightsville resident and president of Atlantic Diving and Marine Contractors, said the company’s captain Jimmy Bethune would be piloting a new, 120-foot long by 45-foot wide barge from Banks Channel to Lees Cut. Although the barge will only draft three feet when weighed down by the house, Walker said judging the tide is always the biggest challenge, especially the shallow waters around Motts Channel and Lees Cut.
“It is a balancing act because if you go up there too close to the bulkhead and put the house on the barge then even at high tide you won’t be able to get the barge off because you have too much weight on there,” Walker said. “We also have to really protect the bulkhead loading and unloading the house. We’ll build a bridge to do it.”
After Matyiko’s crew has completed moving the structure onto the barge, Walker said it would be relatively fast to drive the barge around to Lees Cut given a good high tide.
“That is not a very long operation. Once he gets the house on, it will probably take another hour or so to get everything on the barge,” he said. “Then it could take up to an hour to get the barge launched off; it could be that we miss the tide and then we would have to sit there for 12 hours until the next high tide.”
The NCCF has not determined where the house will be brought ashore once the barge has traveled under the drawbridge and into Lees Cut but, depending on where that is, town of Wrightsville Beach Planning and Parks director Tony Wilson said the movers may have to raise power lines. Other than having the town public works, police and planning department approve the necessary permits, Wilson said the only obligation the town has in the relocation project is to furnish utility lines to the new site, which will be adjacent to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and Visitors Center.
As per the NCCF’s agreement with Mark and Debbie Mitchell, who are donating the home, and the town, the Palmgren-O’Quinn home must be removed from its current location by Memorial Day, May 27.