Story of the one dollar house

This story has two beginnings. One was on Monday when Fisherman Husband thought it might be too foggy to go fishing and went to his launch spot at Cline Spit to check it out. Sure enough: too foggy. So he drove off to check conditions at other launch sites. No luck. He came back to Dungeness Landing for one last look…just as a big barge was coming toward shore to offload the house you see above. Mind you, this is not a big, sophisticated marina. There’s a small beach. And there is a small, graded ramp big enough for a normal tow vehicle to launch a small boat.

The second beginning of this story was when these signs showed up along both sides of a road leading to the landing where the house came ashore. The signs declared no parking on either side of the two lane road from 10 p.m. Monday night until 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The dozens of signs were evenly spaced for 4.5 miles (7.25 km.) where they stopped shortly before the Dungeness River. Until the house appeared on the beach these signs were a mystery to us.

The journey of this house began in Shelton, a tiny community about 75 land miles (121 km.) south of Sequim on the Hood Canal. I don’t know what it took to remove the house from its former site but once it was loaded onto the barge it traveled about 115 miles (185 km.) south down the Hood Canal, into Puget Sound and north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca until it pulled into Dungeness Bay and was dragged onto huge skids on the beach.

There it began the final haul, towed by the truck you saw in the first shot above. While its journey up the beach was no cakewalk, the fun had just begun. Locals know the road at Cline Spit, a steep, narrow grade that is marked by a sharp turn onto a narrow lane at the top. At its final destination yesterday we met a woman who had, along with other locals, come out to watch the spectacle on Monday night. She reported that navigating the grade and the hairpin at the top had taken two hours of turns and see-sawing to edge the monstrous load around the turn, avoiding a fence, telephone poles, and mailboxes.

Along the way, a front corner of the house hit a tree. It seems a minor miracle that this was the worst of it as the caravan passed under numerous telephone and power lines and was wide enough that oncoming traffic wasn’t able to pass.

Yesterday it rested in its new location as workers propped it up from underneath. I’ll definitely return to see how it’s settling in.

So, a couple more details. This house was surplussed by a conservancy in Shelton. It was sold to its proud new owner for one dollar. Quite a bargain as long as you don’t factor in its travel budget to Sequim. We were told by the woman who’d watched the moving drama that the house’s trip ran a cool $300,000.

Update: The local Peninsula Daily News reports that the cost of the move was $162,000, plus utilities. The house, a 1916 Sears kit home, originally sold for a little more than $2,000 and is in largely original condition except for a 1970s kitchen. Here is a link to the PDN story.

11 thoughts on “Story of the one dollar house”

  1. Well, I hope that “the proud new owner” is going to be satisfied after the price tag of the travel expenses. Certainly demonstrates determination.

  2. Oh my gosh! I know it’s not unusual to move houses from place to place but I have to say this is the first home that I’ve heard about traveling to it’s new site by barge, landing on a beach and being hauled through such a tight situation to reach ‘home’, even I was holding my breath there Kay 😊 You will definitely have to show us how it settles in after that nerve-wracking and hugely expensive journey..

  3. What a fascinating tale and great photos to go with it. Can’t imagine doing this. Was the house worth the cost of the move? I get frustrated when I get behind these kinds of haulers on the highway. I’ve been on Interstate 75 when one of them took up most of two lanes and there wasn’t anyway to get around the darn thing!

    From what you saw, would you say that this house was worth 300K?

    1. Lowell, I subsequently found out that the move cost was $162,000, plus utilities. The house, originally sold for around $2,000, is apparently in original condition except for the kitchen. The new owners are originally master carpenters. With their skills and the look of the place I think it’s probably well worth it.

  4. An exciting story Kay. What an incredible move so many things to figure out along the way to get it to its new location. Glad you got a chance to photograph it.

  5. Wow – that is amazing. I’ve watched a couple of houses being moved and it is a fantastic feat – although I’ve not seen one loaded on a barge and brought around by water. The talent it takes to get this all done is unbelievable. What a treat to have that home in your area and watch its resurrection.

    The strange thing is, that we have lived in a Sears Kit house almost exactly like that one – and they are amazing. There are all sorts of clever things that make the house exceptional – including ironing boards that fold down out of the wall, and storage spaces in places you’d usually not think to make into storage. And then we lived in a second Sears Kit house – it was built when there was no electricity in the county outside of Bellingham and it still had its airing cupboard – with vent holes to the outdoors so the food would stay cool – we really enjoyed both houses and the thought of them being delivered as a kit and then assembled. The kitchen in the second house has no space for a refrigerator, since they didn’t have electricity, so when we lived there we had to put the refrigerator in the dining room, which was right next to the kitchen. A little inconvenient, but still a charming house.

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