House moving season is back...
Three structures rolled through the downtown area Thursday morning on their way from Jefferson Avenue out to Skyline Drive. Structures Unlimited, the company running the move, had its workers physically pick up some vehicles on South Beach Street to create just enough room for the largest structure to squeeze by.
No notice of the move had been posted on South Beach Street on Wednesday, so Nantucket police were unable to tow any vehicles along the road.
The sight of the houses rolling over the cobblestones brought out dozens of onlookers who snapped pictures and videos with their cell phones as the structures passed by.
Aerial photos below by Kit Noble:
House moves have been almost ubiquitous on Nantucket during the fall, winter, and spring for years now. The trend is driven in part by economics and the extremely high cost of building on Nantucket: it’s less expensive to move an existing structure or float a modular over on a barge than it is to build a new home.
There’s also the local bylaw that applies to any structure scheduled for demolition that requires property owners to advertise the house as available - typically free - to anyone able to take it away at their cost. And the ongoing Richmond Great Point subdivision that is under construction off Old South Road - a development that will eventually include 225-apartments and 94 homes - has been mostly modular units coming to Nantucket by barge.
House moves - whether it’s a structure being recycled or a modular unit - have been critical to the island’s affordable housing efforts, and have allowed some year-round islanders to buy a home that would have otherwise been unattainable. The practice also keeps a significant amount of demolition debris from ending up in the municipal landfill.