Originally created 02/11/99

Moving business rolls homes to new locations



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Who says you can't take it with you?

In Upstate South Carolina, house movers say their business is booming as development spreads, forcing out some homeowners who decide, indeed, to take it all with them.

John Cox of Cox Moving Co. in Spartanburg, said he has seen such a surge in business during the past five years that he can focus almost exclusively on Greenville-Spartanburg.

"There's been so much growth, there hasn't been a need to go outside," he told The Greenville News on Wednesday.

Greenville County has issued between 10 and 32 moving permits annually for the past decade. Development has brought additional moves: 150 houses when Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport was built in the early 1960s and 125 more recently when BMW located its manufacturing complex in Greer.

The people moving them are like Jim and Tommie Curtis, who bought a 1966 brick ranch house near a pond for $10,000. They spent $12,000 to move it from the lot that was to become part of a subdivision to land they owned more than a mile away.

They had to build a new foundation and they added a garage, deck, master bedroom suite and circular driveway. Now they have a 3,000-square-foot home with four bedrooms and three baths that they figure is worth 2 1/2 times what they have put into it.

House move costs can soar, however, if the distance increases or if the house is so big that utility lines and traffic lights have to be taken down and then put back up.

Still, Mr. Cox said, "We have equipment now that we can do so much more than we did five or 10 years ago.

The latest to move is Cherrydale, the 1840s mansion donated by Greenville's Stone family, that is being taken to Furman University about two miles away where it will become an alumni house.

The four-columned, two-story house is being moved from the site of the former Umbro International complex to make way for a planned shopping center. However, the house on its trailer is 34 feet high, while Duke Power Co. lines along the route had a 20-foot clearance.

Duke is replacing at least half of its 32 poles along the route with 55-foot poles so the power lines can be set at 37 feet high.

Three sets of traffic lights also will have to be removed and then reset to accommodate the house's 57-foot width. Cherrydale is scheduled to move March 7 and 8.

"You have this huge coordination issue to get all those folks to be willing to do what you need to do when you need to do it," said Wendy Libby, Furman's vice president for business affairs. "And they all charge you."

She would not divulge the cost but the school decided that the house once owned by James Clement Furman and refurbished two years ago by the Stone family was too precious to pass up.