History rolls into future

"Without a tornado in sight, the house at 701 Madison Avenue was lifted several feet above the ground. Then it sailed down the road like a tribute to The Wizard of Oz, to touch down on Weaver Avenue.The hardest part will be passing the house under the fiber-optic (overhead) line, said Jeff Monroe of Monroe House Moving, adjusting the remote control by which he steered the motor beneath the historic home Thursday.We move a lot of buildings because of natural disasters like floods and erosion, Monroe said. Right now, though, development growth management is big business. The Monroe firm was commissioned to move the structure, donated to the Housing Resources Board for use as subsidized accommodations, and to make way for a new Madison Avenue development.Built in 1904 and once the residence of Sadie Woodman, the first postwoman on the island, the family home passed from son Bob Woodman and then into the hands of developer Rod McKenzie, who intends to build a courtyard of 30 houses on the site. McKenzie donated the home to the HRB, a non-profit agency that seeks to provide affordable housing.There's a whole load of history here, said Janice Thomas, Bob Woodman's daughter. Her sister Kathy Countryman recalled many happy thanksgivings spent there with her grandmother. At first, we were very sad because we thought the house would be destroyed, she said. I'm so pleased that we can go and visit. Their grandmother's home remains perfectly intact. Only the number beside the door will have to be changed, in view of its new location at the southwest corner of Wyatt Way and Weaver Avenue, on a lot supplied by the city.The donation of this building will help preserve the continuity of the community, said Bill Reddy, executive director of the Housing Resources Board. It means a lot that a low-income family will be able to live here. "

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