MARION — The first of two moves of historic houses in Marion will happen Wednesday after a previous delay caused by the derecho that devastated the town in August.
The houses, at 525 S. 11th St. and 520 12th St., are on the property where the future Marion Public Library will be built. The houses are being moved before the library project is scheduled to break ground Oct. 1.
The first house, which was scheduled to be moved the week of the Aug. 10 derecho, has been sitting in the middle of 11th Street between its former lot and the Marion Public Library ever since, blocking the road. The move is expected to begin at 9 a.m. and should be finished around 1 p.m., a city news release said.
The move will cause rolling road closures Wednesday as the house moves west on Fifth Avenue, south on 10th Street and then east on Fourth Avenue, according to the release.
Joe Hill, a private business owner, plans to develop the two houses, which were built in the 1800s, into a 19-unit apartment complex named Carriage Corner. Carriage Corner will be on Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street.
Hill said the move has been a long time coming.
“Many thought this could not be done,” Hill said. “There is a sense of accomplishment in finally seeing the first house being moved.”
Hill is a Cedar Rapids native who lives in San Diego, Calif. He also is behind the reopening of Maid-Rite at its former location in Uptown Marion.
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The houses, which are owned by the city, have faced various move delays aside from the most recent caused by the derecho. The houses originally were to be moved by the end of 2019. The Marion City Council voted to extend the deadline by six months to June of this year. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, and the deadline was extended again to Sept. 30.
Hill said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly and the City Council have been supportive in the move process.
AbouAssaly said he thinks the historic homes are significant features of Marion and didn’t want to see them torn down.
“They may on their own seem like insignificant little houses, but they have a story to tell, and Marion’s history is so rich,” AbouAssaly said. “If you take away, one by one, seemingly insignificant elements of history, you become like every other city. You lose your uniqueness, the character of the community.”
The house that is moving Wednesday still has no roof after it was blown off during the derecho. Hill said the roof can be replaced and may be “even better with possibly a loft.”
The second house will be moved Sept. 28, Hill said. Once the moves are complete, the basements will be completed on the homes and replacing the roof will become a priority, he said. Once those steps are complete, interior walls and the overall layouts will be worked on.
Hill said there is much work to be done.
“I see the past, the present and the future of Marion in this project,” Hill said. “I am proud that I can be a part of it.”
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