By Caitie Forde-Smith
A date has finally been set for the move of the Palmgren-O’Quinn house, which will become the new home of the federation’s southeast regional office and coastal education center. The house will move over two days beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, June 19 around 3:30 PM as it sets sail on the barge around Harbor Island and concluding on Thursday, June 20, when the house will be put on a truck and then gently positioned at its new location at the town of Wrightsville Beach’s Historic Square.
Plans to move the house – by barge and later by land – have been complex and difficult. Monumental responsibilities were involved, including multiple permits and larger-than-life equipment and crews. Even the tiniest changes to tides and winds affected the move’s timing and promotion. Other challenges included caring for the historic features and façade and ensuring all the moving parts of this project were synchronized.
Without the support of the town, construction partners, businesses and the people in this region, the move would have been even tougher, if not impossible.
It took a village.
Finding a new house took a village. The federation identified the historic 1946 Palmgren-O’Quinn house as a potential Coastal Education Center candidate about a year ago. The cottage had belonged in the O’Quinn family for more than four decades.Robert O’Quinn, a former Wrightsville Beach mayor, and his wife sold the house to their South Channel Drive neighbors, Mark and Debbie Mitchell in 2012.
The Mitchells agreed to participate in the town’s historic preservation program. In doing so, the Palmgren-O’Quinn house was donated to the federation and saved from demolition.
Creating partnerships took a village. Several project partners have worked with the federation and town to make this move possible, including Expert House Movers – the company involved in the successful relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999. As a kid, architect Phil Szostak, owner of Szostak Design, spent many summers at the Palmgren-O’Quinn house. Other project partners include: Konrady & Son Construction, LLC; Atlantic Marine & Diving Contractors; A Structural Guy Engineers; Coastal Stormwater Services and; Keller’s Fire Protection and Security Specialist s.
The federation’s southeast advisory board members and volunteers pounded the pavement for weeks, gaining generous support from the Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington business communities. Over 25 restaurants and stores are offering promotional deals to recognize the federation’s moving day. Two restaurants, the Bridge Tender and the Fish House Grill, will each donate 10 percent of their revenues on Moving Day to the federation. Bluewater Grill will host a complimentary champagne toast.
Turning a house into a home will take a village. Following Wednesday’s move, renovations to transform the cottage into a new Coastal Education Center and office will begin. The federation hopes to open doors to the community late this year.
The new space will allow for increased educational programming, classrooms, cultural preservation and community outreach. Outdoor events and oyster roasts will be hosted outside, adjacent to soon-to-be-built rain gardens. Stay tuned for a native plant party.
Progress will take a village. We thank all those involved. This week, the end is finally in sight. Or rather, it is just another beginning. We look forward to celebrating with you Wednesday, and we ask for your continued help and support as we move forward together on the southeast coast. Please stop in and say hello. We’d love to meet you.
We invite you to bring your family and friends to watch the house float by with federation staff. These locations and promotional deals are updated daily on our social media pages and website. You can also follow the move online by signing up to receive email updates via our website (www.nccoast.org), Facebook posts or tweets (@NCCoastalfed).