Historic Upchurch-Williams house moved in Apex
Simply keeping up a massive, 110-year-old home can be hard enough. Moving it a quarter of a mile down the road, across a bridge over the 540 Outer Loop and into a muddy field is a whole other level of complicated.
But that’s what John Kane did with his historic home Tuesday. After weeks of prep work, it took nearly the whole day to move the house about 400 yards down Roberts Road, near the Cary-Apex border in far western Wake County, from a few hundred feet west of N.C. 540 to a piece of land nestled just inside the highway.
At two stories and 3,800 square feet, it was too large to fit on the two-lane Roberts Road bridge over N.C. 540, so the movers had to cut part of the house off and move it in pieces.
About 40 people came out to watch, including many children of the movers who skipped school to learn about their parents’ jobs. Some interested Apex residents also came out.
Two neighbors, Gerald and Gayle Woods, grilled hotdogs and set up chairs under a tent in their front yard. Gerald Woods said they’ve lived there 30 years and have seen four other homes moved – mostly for the construction of 540 – but that this was the most ambitious yet.
Others agreed that the size of the house made the project nearly impossible.
“If it was any further, they probably wouldn’t have been able to move it,” said Stuart Jones, an Apex engineer who also is board of directors chairman of the Capital Area Preservation, the house’s new owner.
The work was subsidized by the Town of Apex, which gave a $75,000 no-interest loan to Capital Area Preservation. The group plans to sell the house and use part of the proceeds to pay back Apex’s loan.
“It’s a real good thing they do this with these old historic homes, otherwise they’d just end up in the landfill,” said Lynn McCrary, whose company, McCrary House Movers, moved the house. He estimated the building weighed about 100 tons when combined with the truck and all the metal supports needed for the move.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” he said, while the truck carrying the home was traversing the bridge over the highway. But the bridge didn’t buckle, and the house made it to its new destination.
Kane bought the house last year and soon donated it, and its new property, to the preservation group. He said he wanted to move the house so it wouldn’t be torn down, since he has plans for the land it had been on for so many years. That property connects with his own.
“We bought it because we didn’t want somebody else to come in and trash it,” he said. “And now I can combine this land with my own, for my heirs to develop.”
Kane – who is a retired auto shop owner rather than the Raleigh real estate mogul of the same name – bought the house after the death of his wife’s cousin, Imogene Baker, who had lived there. Kane’s wife, Francis Lorraine Kane, died soon after that. He decided to donate the home in her memory.
The house was built in 1905 by a wealthy landowner named Golden Upchurch. By all accounts, it’s a gorgeous piece of history – with a wraparound porch, a stunning staircase and a second floor that still has all the original gas lamps and paneling.
“It’s a Queen Anne style, which was common,” said Gary Roth, with Capital Area Preservation. “But it’s particularly grand.”