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November 15, 2012

Reuben Wells home on the road

Historic home being moved in downtown Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — After months of planning, years worth of discussions and more than century in its place in Jeffersonville, the Reuben Wells house was on the move Thursday.

The home, believed to have been built in 1870, was being moved from its former location at the corner of Chestnut and Mulberry streets to the 200 block of West Market Street in Jeffersonville.

Mary Jo and Walter Carrico purchased the Reuben Wells House — also known as the Fisher House — and had been working with the city to help relocate the home because it was slated for destruction to make way for Big Four Station — a two-block park surrounding the foot of the Big Four pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission agreed to pay $50,000 to help the Carricos cover the cost to move the home. Walter Carrico said even with the money dedicated from the city he would be using $100,000 to $150,000 of his own funds to pay for the relocation.

But as the Reuben Wells House was being pulled down Mulberry Street on Thursday afternoon, the couple said they were excited and relieved to finally have the big move under way.

“It’s just so exciting; we’re just enjoying it,” Mary Jo Carrico said.

Walter Carrico added that “we’re very, very happy that ... we’re going to have the opportunity to save it. We have a lot of wonderful contractors in line just waiting to get into it.”

He said once the house is set in place, there is still a lot of work to be done to restore the home, including $40,000 worth of repairs to the back of the home where the kitchen was located. A fire earlier in the fall caused the damage to the home while it sat vacant waiting to be moved.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Walter Carrico said.

He added that they hope to move into the house by January.

“At some capacity, we’ll be living in it,” Mary Jo Carrico said. “We want to get in there as soon as possible and get a normal life going. Its refreshing now that we can go on.”

But before the Carricos can move in, the estimated 200-ton, solid-brick home needs to be dragged from Chestnut to Market street.

Stephen Edwards, owner of Stephen Edwards Building Movers, said the process was going slowly, but was “just what we expected.”

“We’re never in a hurry to move this large of a building and that much weight,” he said.

Edwards said the most difficult part of the move is navigating two turns before the home is ready to be set upon its new foundation on Market Street.

“It may be Friday morning before the home is finally set in place,” he said. “We don’t set any speed records,” he said with a laugh.

Edwards explained that while the company normally moves buildings of a similar size and weight, its rare to move a solid masonry building.

“There’s not that many of them and not that much reason to be moving them, usually,” he said.

He added that they need to take extra precautions with a solid brick building because it’s heavier, it’s older and the equipment used is different that a wood-frame home.

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