The original house (above on Oak Street) was built most likely 1937, at 625 Liberty Street SE, the current plot where the Salem Library parking garage now sits.
When plans were developing for the new civic center and public library complex, it was obvious that these two city blocks of residences would be razed to make way for the new complex. One of the architects in the design consortium was Warren Carkin, AIA. He ‘rescued’ this home, along with its garage and one other destined for destruction, and had them all moved in 1968 to an empty lot he purchased, then known as 460 Oak St. SE.
Several families had ownership after the move, starting with Carkins, then eventually purchased by the Kohne Family Limited Partnership from Susan Reilly in 1985 to maintain as a rental property. Various tenants occupied this residence until the decision was rendered by the family to have it removed or razed. In 2006, after many months of negotiations with the City of Salem Historic Landmarks commission and city council, the Kohnes were granted permission to have it relocated, provided it was remodeled at its new location suitable for occupancy with similar appearance to its original Farmhouse look. The hang-up occurred because this residence was within the boundaries of the Gaiety Hill / Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District. Even though the house had previously been moved to this site, and thus was non-contributing to the neighborhood history, it was there when the District was formed.
The house was donated by the Kohne Family to the non-profit group, Northwest House of Theological Studies. Conditions of this transfer required that all costs for the move and reconstruction would be reimbursed, thus providing a capital asset to the group. After reconstruction was complete, the group placed the house up for sale, and it was purchased within the year by its current owner.
The conditions of the move were limited by height. Utility companies refused to temporarily relocate any of the obstructions, and the route required the structures to pass underneath the Penney’s pedestrian overpass. Therefore, the house had to be split horizontally into two chunks, which obviously required severe destruction of the structure, electrical and plumbing utilities. Simply, the process involved severing the house at the midpoint height, raising the 2nd floor on cribbing so that the first floor could be slid into the backyard on wheels, then dropping the 2nd floor back down onto its own wheels.
In the photo below, April 30, 2006, the house approaching the overpass, you will notice a man’s profile standing inside the bridge taking pictures: that was Warren Carkin who had it moved the first time!
The move was accomplished in a caravan of 3 structures and was required by the permits to be finished by noon on that Sunday so as not to impede traffic. The three structures were the top floor, the bottom floor, and the larger of the two garages. After delivery to its new West Salem site, the house sat awkwardly on its wheels for some months before reassembly began. Several rainstorms severely ravaged what little of the structure hadn’t been destroyed by the moving process itself. Reconstruction of the house on its new site was extensive, with the attractive result you see below.