2017 | Real Estate

74-year-old Chevy Chase House Makes 50-Foot Journey to New Location

Company plans to restore home and build another in adjacent lot

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The house on Monday as workers prepared to move it to its new lot.

Joe Zimmermann

After weeks of effort and with the help of contractors and advanced equipment, 3407 Thornapple St. will now become 3405 Thornapple St.

It’s more than a change of address: the entire Chevy Chase house was picked up out of its foundation this week and moved to its new location—50 feet and half an inch to the right of where it once stood for 74 years.

Sitting atop a steel frame with four sets of eight motorized wheels, the 1943 Dutch colonial began its slow journey Monday afternoon, inching to its new lot next door. Workers set the Martins Additions home in place Tuesday morning.

“This is definitely the biggest undertaking we’ve ever done,” said Jodi Longo, owner of Renovation Studio, which managed the project and owns the house and property. Her company, based in Kensington, has restored more than 30 historic homes in the Chevy Chase and Kensington area.

The unusual renovation project came as a solution to a peculiar problem, Longo said. The house straddled two lots, and Longo said the plan to move the house was something of a “win-win for the community,” as it allowed the longstanding home to remain—relatively—in its place while creating more space on the block.

To complete the move, which Longo said cost almost $50,000, Renovation Studio partnered with Expert House Movers, a Virginia-based moving company experienced in the unconventional renovation method. In the past, the company has moved historic buildings and even lighthouses using similar methods.

A crew worked on the house for nearly a month, first excavating and demolishing the foundation and using a hydraulic jack to lift the whole structure and add the steel frame to the bottom, Longo said.

Now that the house is in place in its new location, workers will put in columns and build up the foundation and construct a new basement. Longo expects the foundation to take about three weeks, after which her company will complete its renovation of the house, adding a new roof, windows, and siding.

The renovation should take about seven months, so the house should be ready to be put on the market in October, Longo said. She also plans to develop the adjacent lot on which the house partially sat, and build another home there. Both lots are about 10,000 square feet.

Longo said she wanted the newly relocated four-bedroom, five-bathroom home to be affordable for the “move-up community” of families looking for a larger home that is still affordable. It will include an open kitchen with a breakfast nook, as well as a garage and mudroom in the new 9-foot-tall basement.

Longo, who started her own company more than 10 years ago after a career at Amnesty International, said she has a passion for renovating homes and believes older homes are important to the community. She got into building after organizing the construction of her own front porch, after which she fell in love with the process. Last year her company won a Montgomery County award for historic preservation in Kensington.

“This [Chevy Chase home] is an example or a model that shows what a builder can do to preserve a historic house,” she said. “It’s a little gem.”