House moving requires hard work, boldness and a sense of timing, especially when it comes to saving a historical treasure. Such is the case of Bernadette’s Restaurant, formerly Homeplace PVC Plantation.
While it’s physically possible to move almost anything, it isn’t always economically feasible. The cost of disconnecting power lines, moving traffic signals and streetlights and trimming overhanging tree limbs mounts quickly. Luckily, Louisiana’s Great River Road, between Convent and Burnside, has very few power lines, almost no traffic signals or streetlights, and only a few trees to meander around. On average, it costs $12 to $16 per square foot to move a house. Of course, that price doesn’t include a new building lot, a new foundation or building-code-related improvements (Bernadette’s already had a new home on the grounds of The Cabin and was put up on brick piers in the typical Acadian style).
In order to get a house onto a truck bed, it’s first jacked up and supported on cribbing, then the jacks are positioned on the cribbing and the house is raised again. When the house rests on cribbing piers of adequate height, a semi-truck backs its trailer under the house, which is then lowered onto the flatbed.
After the house is safely on the truck bed, the trailer begins its slow crawl up the road to the house’s new location. (Note: Homeplace PVC was possibly moved once before, in late 1920’s when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed massive new levees; the house may have been moved back, further away from the river, to accommodate the new levees. Instead of using a truck, the owners would have used mules to haul it a short distance over logs).
Once at the new site, the building was again positioned on cribbing. Eventually, the building is oriented to the desired position. Once the foundation (cement piers in the case of Bernadette’s) is completed inside the cribbing perimeter, the building was jacked up the again to remove beams and cribbing, then lowered on to the brick foundation.
Moving buildings like Bernadette’s is easier than it seems, especially when you have had over 40 years experience in doing, as the Roberts do. If there are no other options for saving a historic building, moving it to a new site is easier than it sounds. Please enjoy the photo gallery below that contains images from the move of Homeplace PVC Plantation to its new site on the grounds of The Cabin, as well as its new identity as Bernadette’s Restaurant.