Victorian house schlep to hit TV's `Mega Movers'

July 05, 2006|By SANDY ALEXANDER | SANDY ALEXANDER,SUN REPORTER

As her friends and family members used saws and sledgehammers to rip apart the interior of her three-story Victorian home in Clarksville, Denise Bowman blissfully looked out the curved attic window at a couple of horses grazing in the distance.

"Look at that view," she said over the din of the demolition occurring downstairs. "Isn't it gorgeous?"

A few months ago, the view was there - but the 19th-century structure was sitting three miles away at Route 108 and Ten Oaks Road, awaiting destruction to make way for a car lot.

Getting the house to its new location - a move that took two days in March, cost $120,000 and, at one point, included an unscheduled stop in a farmer's field while the moving crew replaced a truck axle - is a story that will be featured on The History Channel's Mega Movers program at 10 p.m. July 18.

Now peacefully settled into its new spot overlooking a wide green lawn, evergreen trees and a distant pasture, Denise and Glenn Bowman's home is little worse for wear. Denise Bowman said when she and Glenn examined the house upon its arrival, it clearly had more cracks in the plaster, but little else was disturbed.

After the Bowmans directed Eastern Shore-based Expert House Movers to adjust the house to just the right angle, professional builders created the foundation while the structure rested on hydraulic lifts. A drainage system was constructed and dirt was back-filled.

Then came the professional installation of a new heating and air-conditioning system, now in progress, to be followed in coming weeks by new electrical wiring, plumbing, and kitchen and bath fixtures. Also, Glenn Bowman plans to tackle new siding, paint and a new roof.

Glenn Bowman said it was "very satisfying" last weekend to handle tasks that immediately showed progress.

With the help of nearly a dozen people over two days, they smashed through thin partition walls and low counters that were installed when the house was used for offices, including a dental practice. They pulled out electrical fixtures, tore up baseboard heaters (from which the copper was stolen when the house stood empty) and ripped out carpeting.

As the dividers gave way, the Bowmans, who now live in a townhouse near Columbia, said they could finally see the shape of the rooms and think about how to design them.

"I can see it," Denise Bowman said, sitting near a partially demolished wall in the living room, where a coat of dust covered the wood floors. "I can see the sofa. I can see the dining room table. Even just taking the boards off the windows and letting the light in ... I just get real warm and fuzzy."

Eventually, the couple plans to have 5,650 square feet of living space, including the basement and attic.

The two were also excited to learn more about their house as the work progressed. A hole cut in an attic wall for ducts revealed charred wood where there has been a fire. Under a layer of wall covering in the mudroom, they found the siding of a former porch. Denise Bowman climbed on a ladder and peered into the ceiling with a flashlight to confirm that a brick chimney hid behind one section of the kitchen wall.

Even little things seemed to excite the new owners.

As Glenn Bowman opened the front door for the first time and laid a wooden plank there in lieu of a front porch, Denise Bowman looked at eight of her volunteers clustered at the foot of the staircase and exclaimed, "Look how many people can stand in my foyer. I love it."

The installation of electricity and plumbing should clear the way for the Bowmans to move in with their dog in October, Denise Bowman said. They plan to live in a couple of rooms while they refurbish the rest.

"We're going to be living in filth for a long time," she said.

Glenn Bowman's mother, Clara Moffitt of Columbia, has been helping out since they bought the house.

"When I felt the wood under my feet, how solid the house was, I knew they had made a good choice," Moffitt said. "A difficult choice, but a good one."

She added: "Knowing the way they can put a party together, this is magnificent for them."

Kimberly Mitchell of Finksburg agreed that Denise Bowman, who works in events planning and Glenn Bowman, a lighting designer, are known for their celebrations, including a birthday party for their dog that included an ice sculpture and a game of "Pin the Tail on the Cat."

"I can't wait to sit on that front porch and have a glass of wine with them," said Mitchell, who with her husband, Jim, helped pull the old porch off before the house moved.

"I thought they were crazy," Mitchell said. "But when you have a dream and you can actually see that dream come true, go ahead."

Denise Bowman clearly had the dream in mind as she stepped over debris and raised her voice above the hammering and sawing.

She said, "Every time I walk though this house I think, `Oh, it's mine!' I love it."

sandy.alexander@baltsun.com

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