Greenhouse owner donates house, moves it into Hutch: It will serve as a rental for vets
Aug 28, 2016
Ervin and Emma Stutzman moved about 5 miles last year. Who could have guessed that a year later their home of five decades would move farther than they did?
The home the Stutzmans built in Pleasantview moved into Hutchinson, across from Interfaith Housing Services’ office, this week. Interfaith will divide it into a duplex, renting it out to low-income veterans.
The Stutzmans moved into a basement at the corner of K-61 and Dean Road in 1951, Ervin Stutzman said.
The Stutzmans moved out and sold the house last fall to Ben Miller, who said he previously bought Stutzmans Greenhouse from them in 1985.
Miller wants to continue to grow the business, including expanding the parking lot and improving visibility along U.S. 50. But he didn’t want to demolish the house. So he started putting out word that he was willing to give the house away if someone could have it moved.
Miller said he thought Interfaith heard about the offer through a church connection. When it turned out that moving the house wouldn’t fit in Interfaith’s budget, Miller even agreed to pay for the move.
“I would have hated to see the house destroyed, which would have been the alternative,” he said. “This is just a real win-win for everybody.”
“We thought we lived in paradise,” said Florence Galloway, whom the Stutzmans took in as a foster child. “Too bad my brother (Don Ferguson) couldn’t be alive to see this.”
With the exception of nine years on a mission in Haiti, the family had lived there the entire time, Stutzman said.
“It means a lot to us that it’s being moved and not demolished on the spot,” he said as Unruh House Moving of Moundridge lined it up with the new foundation before moving it into place.
Paul Jorgenson, Interfaith’s Reno County maintenance manager, said so much work went into preparing for the move that it was a thrill to see it coming to fruition. For example, he said, digging the hole for the basement at the new location took 36 hours.
The move took a lot of planning: coordinating with law enforcement for traffic control and with utility companies to avoid hitting overhead lines or utility poles, and the house movers, Unruh House Moving of Moundridge.
On Monday, Unruh House Moving jacked the house off its foundation and moved it onto the trailer for hauling. The trailer can lift or tilt a house it is carrying to clear low obstacles like mailboxes. Monroe Becker, one of four co-owners of Unruh House Moving, said moving houses with basements is easier than houses with crawlspaces because there is room to work underneath them.
The house took an indirect route, avoiding U.S. 50 to minimize disruptions, making the final leg of the route north on Lorraine Street.
“I was about in tears when I saw that thing coming down the road,” Jorgenson said.
The move encountered a couple of delays in the homestretch late Tuesday morning. The convoy had to stop at the intersection of Carey Boulevard and Lorraine Street for a train crossing.
Meanwhile, workers were trying to remove a small secondary utility pole near the new foundation, where the house needed to go to get in position for the final transfer onto the foundation.
And after the train finished crossing and the utility pole was moved, Ervin Stutzman was there to see his longtime home moved into place around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Unruh House Moving rolled it onto the foundation Tuesday afternoon and secured it in place Wednesday.
Now Interfaith will renovate the house, converting it into a duplex with two, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments. Jorgenson said the apartments could be ready for renters by March.
Jeff Thomson, projects coordinator for Interfaith, said it will be used as low-income rental housing for veterans. It will be Interfaith’s first foray into veterans housing.