Historical Buildings Ready for Move
The Crane Cabin, originally constructed around 1860, is one of the historical structures being prepared for relocation.
By Brad Meyer
The first of several structures with a significant connection to Texas history is up on wheels and ready to make its long, slow journey from obscurity to a place of public prominence.
The Hulen House, originally constructed in Willis prior to the Civil War, will be cut in two sections for transport to Fernland Historical Park.
After months of planning and preparation, the first of the vintage buildings that will be showcased in Montgomery’s new Fernland Historical Park is scheduled to be transported to the facility this week.
“We’re looking forward to getting the buildings on site,” said Philip LeFevre, chairman of the Fernland Building Committee. “The park is going to a tremendous educational facility and something the community can be proud of.”
Montgomery officials approved $430,000 in expenditures – including $140,000 for moving the structures – over the next two years to create the historical park featuring early Texas buildings to be an educational resource and to encourage tourism.
The park is an extension of Montgomery’s commitment to enhancing its image as a historical site in Texas. The community lays claim to being the location where Dr. Charles B. Stewart designed the iconic Texas state flag.
Four of the five buildings come from Fernland, a 40- acre parcel of land donated to Sam Houston State University by Carroll and Mae Tharp. Dating back to the 1820s, the structures feature early Texas architecture and artifacts. The most famous structure on the site, Bear Bend, a hunting lodge used by the Republic of Texas’ first president, Sam Houston, will ultimately be transported to SHSU.
Moving any large structure more than a dozen miles is difficult, but when the buildings are historically significant structures dating back to the early 19th century, the challenge is even greater.
“Prepping the buildings involves reinforcing the structures from the inside so they can make the trip,” said Artie Morin, a workman with Cherry House Moving, which is preparing the structures for transport. “We’ve also had to clear a path through the woods so we can get the buildings out.”
Christiana Huffman, project coordinator for Cherry House Moving, said chimneys and steps have been removed from the buildings and will be reassembled when the structures arrive at their ultimate destination, more than a dozen miles away in Montgomery. Some of the buildings will have to be cut in two so they can be moved.
While a specific schedule for moving the buildings has not been finalized, Huffman said the company is coordinating with local law enforcement and utility companies related to the move.
“Power and phone lines are going to have to be raised,” she said. “We’re going to try to do the move at night to minimize disruption to the public on local roads.”
The buildings will be transported from their Honea-Egypt Road location to the park location, adjacent to the Charles B. Stewart Library in Montgomery, via FM 2854 and Texas 105.
Once transported, each of the buildings will be positioned on pad sites already prepared for the historical structure.
“The park site is ready for the buildings,” said LeFevre. “When the buildings are relocated, we’ll rebuild the chimneys, reattach the steps or do whatever is necessary to restore them.”
When complete, all of the structures in Fernland Historical Park will feature period and representative furniture and artifacts. LeFevre said organizers have spent several months acquiring and restoring artifacts to be displayed in the park.
The whole process of finalizing the historical structures in their new location will take at least six months, LeFevre said, although he anticipates several preview events to introduce the public to the park and solicit support.
“We are going to need financial support and volunteers to complete the park and operate it properly,” he said. “These buildings are an important part of Texas history. I’m glad we’re going to be able to share them with the public in Montgomery.”
Brad Meyer can be reached at email@example.com
The first of several historical buildings being relocated to Montgomery’s new Fernland Historical Park is set to be moved in the coming week. For more information on the future education and entertainment facility, visit www.fernland.org.