Boise's Morris Knudsen House moved down Franklin Street

Credit: Matt Standal / KTVB

Crews from Western States Moving maneuver Boise's historic Morris Knudsen House into place over a unique wooden structure that will eventually hold its foundation.

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by Matt Standal

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBMatt

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 5:09 PM

BOISE -- You don't often see a 200,000-pound, stone home cruising the streets of Boise, Idaho.

Yet, that's what hundreds of onlookers stopped to view on Franklin Street Monday. They watched as the historic Morris Knudsen House traveled from 603 Franklin Street to its new home at 812. The move was a little over two blocks, and took just about two hours.

Boise businessman Burr Boynton bought the 1905 Dutch Colonial Revivalist home for just a single dollar from the State of Idaho last year. Boynton paid about $80,000 to move the building.

"It's made a significant contribution to the history of Boise," Boynton said. "Since the house was threatened, and we had the opportunity to save it, we acted on it."

The home needed to make way for the new Capitol parking garage going up next door.

The idea seems simple: jack the house up on wheels, get a big truck, and hire Kenny Phiffer with Western States Movers to drive it down Franklin Street. Phiffer has been moving houses for over 40 years.

"Oh, been doing this all my life," the 66-year-old cheerfully told KTVB.

However, moving a house down a city street takes skill and constant vigilance, as Phiffer knows.

It also takes chainsaws and chippers to clear tree branches, power crews to hold up electric lines, and apparently lots of people to come out and watch.

And why not?

The site of this green and pink home rumbling down the street is just plain interesting. So is how Western States Movers maneuvers it into place.

First, they dig a 15-foot-deep foundation pit and build a strong wooden bridge to support the massive project. Then, crew members drive the house over the top and slowly let it down. In the coming days, construction workers will go underneath the structure and build a wooden cribbing to eventually hold a poured concrete foundation.

For Burr Boynton, the job is about looking to the future, even though he's working to save a piece of the past. He hopes to rehabilitate most of the home's interior, and then rent the space as offices.

"We hope to set the house up for the next 100 years," Boynton told KTVB.

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