Jones-Lee House to be moved Sunday

The landmark Jones-Lee House on Evans Street has been carefully packed up, securely loaded and is ready to be moved to Greene Street on Sunday.

If only helium balloons worked like they do in the animated movie “Up,” the house could be transferred in a jiffy.

Candace Pearce, chairwoman of the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission, said she has all the confidence in the world the house is in good hands.

The official movers, Landen Moving Contractors, a Greenville company, subcontracted Rodney Turner House Moving Service from Pink Hill. Rodney Turner Sr., has been moving houses for almost six decades.

He and his two sons have moved hundreds of houses off their foundations to other locations.

“It takes a special kind of person to have the guts to pick up and move a house like this,” Pearce said.

Turner said Thursday the two-story house will be a challenge to move, but no more than any of the other houses he has moved over the years. He did acknowledge the Jones-Lee House was especially heavy.

The picturesque Victorian house has remained at 802 S. Evans St. for nearly 124 years. Built in 1895, the house is made of solid wood beams that not even a nail gun can penetrate, according to Pearce, a retired contractor, who remodeled the house to use as her office in 2001.

“It is extremely well-built,” she said.

The recent rains have not made moving the house off its foundation any easier.

Plans are to move the house to 302 S. Greene St. next to a “sister” house, the James L. Fleming House, Pearce said.

The Chamber of Commerce leases the Fleming House from the City of Greenville. Both houses are listed on the U.S National Register of Historic Places and both are listed as having the same architect.

The Jones-Lee House has been saved from destruction because efforts by concerned citizens, the City Council, Preservation North Carolina and the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission.

“It was a huge group effort by the community,” said Pearce.

“For those of us who are involved, this is an exciting day. There are people who have driven by the house their whole lives and never thought about it. But when they heard the house was possibly going to fall down, or be torn down, we received lots of phone calls, emails and letters,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing the community is doing. It is saving a part of the character and history of Greenville.”

The previous owners, Taft Ward Assemblage, wanted the house moved in order to develop the property for other uses, as downtown Greenville continues to expand.

Don Edwards of Uptown Properties is listed as the current owner of the Jones-Lee House. Edwards could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Pearce believes the house will be used for commercial purposes.

Rodney Turner Sr. spoke with Pearce today as he was securing the house.

“He said the best time to move wood houses is in the heat. Wood has water in it and allows the house to shift without breaking” he told her.

“He is used to working when it is hot,” she added.

Pearce was impressed with his confident demeanor, especially when drive-by, concerned citizens were worriedly texting her throughout the day on the progress of the Turner’s work.

“He was very confident. He was not worried at all about moving this house,” she said.

Read full story…

(The Reflector, 7/26/19)