The typical way to move is to pack up your belongings, load them into a truck, drive to a new home and unpack. In 1950, North End residents decided it was easier to simply move the house with everything in it.
“Instead of transferring their furniture and other belongings from one home to another, the people are staying in the house while it moves,” the Cumberland Evening Times reported in April 1950.
The move was necessitated by the ongoing flood control project along Wills Creek. Cumberland has a long history of flooding, with major floods coming in 1889, 1924, 1936, 1937 and 1942. Plans had been put forth after the 1924 and 1936 floods to try to alleviate flooding throughout Cumberland, but they wound up gathering dust on a shelf. After the 1942 flood, officials gave the plans another look.
“By 1945, the Army Corps of Engineers had begun to restudy their earlier flood-control construction designs, and during the post-war period, steps were undertaken to plan for the construction of the flood-control project. By March 1949, the work was underway,” Al Feldstein wrote in the historical afterward of “The Rain Man.”
Part of the work with deepening and widening Wills Creek in order to handle more water meant that some houses had to be moved out of the way. Seven houses could be moved away from the water while three buildings needed to be razed in the Valley Street area. The buildings that needed to be razed were a double-frame house, the Schade Radiator Co. and Williams Foundry.
By April 1950, one two-story frame house on North Centre Street had already been moved.
“Some of the buildings are being moved as far as 25 feet,” the newspaper reported.
The larger challenge was going to be moving the Hiser Apartment Building located at North Centre and North Mechanic streets. The twostory brick building, which contained four apartments, was much larger than a house. The Cumberland Evening Times noted that it was believed to be the largest building ever moved in Cumberland.