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House on the move
By the end of this spring, Sarah Primrose will probably be hoping she never hears another house speak to her again.
Repeating the refrain she uttered 10 years ago when she and husband John removed a circa 1928 cabin from Columbia Beach and moved it to their Saratoga Road property, Primrose found herself explaining over the last couple of weeks why she was having another old house moved to her place.
"Houses have a way of speaking to me," she said.
The uttering structure this time was a Baby Island home built in 1937 by former Baby Island owner Darrell Scott. Offered for the moving by owners John and Teddy Rees, the house has long served as a vacation cabin overlooking South Whidbey's disintegrating satellite island. House movers cut the house apart and loaded it on trucks during the past two weeks. The home and a garage on the property were in place at their new location by late Monday.
The Primroses, who restored the first house they moved into a rental unit, decided the Scott house was one that needed their attention. After searching for several years for another house to move, they decided on this one for at least two good reasons: history and location.
Located just down the street from the Primrose home, the old house is one of many giving way to new development on Baby Island Lane. Still known as the Darrell Scott house, even though the Rees' have owned the 1,050-square-foot structure for years, it is tied to the area's history. According to Scott's great-niece Sue Wickland and others, Scott built the home shortly after losing Baby Island and the resort he built there in a poker game at The Dog House Tavern in Langley. Wickland said losing the island was a blow to her relative. She lives across the street from where Scott -- who died in the 1960s -- built his house, a house with a view of his beloved, lost island.
Wickland said he should have been playing a different game that night at The Dog House.
"He was better at pool," she said.
Fortunately for the house, the Primroses have more luck at moving houses than Scott did at poker. Compared to the 13-mile house move they did in 1990, the journey this time around was much easier. But this house is larger than the first, which caused its own problems. Located on a lot just barely wider than the structure, the house was a challenge to get off the ground and up the road.
The Rees' watched the move as anxiously as the Primroses. Planning to build a new home on their property, a home in which they will retire, the couple nonetheless wanted a better fate for the old house than the wrecking ball. Teddy Rees said she is glad to see the house get a new home.
"It's a creative solution," she said.
Though they are old pros at moving houses, the Primroses did the move with a loan from South Whidbey's Goosefoot Community Fund. Sarah Primrose said she and her husband could not have gotten the money any other way. Goosefoot itself is in the house moving business -- it has donated several houses to industrious families in need of good, fixer-upper homes.
Fixer-upper describes the Darrell Scott home well. Though well-built with solid boards and unusual wood floors, it needs new wiring, new plumbing, paint and and to be reassembled on a new foundation. John Primrose said the work should be finished by July, at which point the house will become a weekend rental unit. The couple plans to remodel the garage as a studio.
Sarah Primrose said the Scott house is the last structure she and her husband plan on moving.