Amber and Brent Rugan see themselves as more than owners of the massive, century-old white house at 2526 Broadway they are moving to their farm southwest of Ellinwood. They see themselves as caretakers of its rich heritage.
“This house has its own history,” Amber said. “We want to be a part of that.”
However, the move is bittersweet, she said, noting her lifetime appreciation for beautiful and historical architecture. And, this structure was one of the stately old homes along Great Bend’s showcase tree-lined avenue.
“It makes me sick to the stomach that we are moving this off of Broadway. We feel like we are robbing the community,” she said. But, “we are giving it a new lease on life as a farmhouse.”
Now, the huge undertaking is underway. Unruh House Moving of Galva on Monday started preparing it to be moved. According to the moving company, it will take about a week to get the structure ready, with the operation set for next Tuesday.
The trees in the yard were removed a week or so ago. Now, holes are being made in the foundation so giant steel beams can be slid under the house. Exterior features that may pose a risk are being removed and other prep work is being done before it is loaded onto the trailer.
The route takes the house west on Broadway (without removing the island trees) to Washington, south to Railroad Avenue, then east to Main Street (U.S. 281) and south from there. It will require the moving of Wheatland Electric power lines, City of Great Bend traffic lights and other accommodations, Great Bend Building Inspector Logan Burns said.
The city’s responsibility is to issue the moving permits, provide escorts to the city limits and coordinate with Wheatland, the city Public Works Department and the Police Department “to make it as easy as possible,” Burns said.
Once out of the city limits, the route takes SE 10 Road east to SE 30 Avenue, and winds its way along other township and county roads.
The final destination is southwest of Ellinwood on the Stafford County side of the Barton-Stafford county line, just off Barton County SE 70 Road/Stafford County NE 210 Road. That is about 6 miles east of U.S. 281.
About the house
According to Great Bend Tribune accounts of the time, the house was built for Arthur E. Taylor in 1921. At the time, it sat on the western edge of town.
Amber said she has done extensive research on the home’s history and there have been a parade of residents, from doctors to pastors. Although she has no family connection to the house, she feels like she’s gotten to know past residents, either through her studies or by meeting them in person.
But why uproot a structure from where it has stood for 100 years and relocate it?
“We were looking at adding on to our house or building new,” she said. But, in the current COVID-19-induced supply chain world, the cost of lumber, other materials and construction was cost prohibitive.
When the Broadway house came up for sale, it was the ideal home and they jokingly brought up the move. The more they looked at their options, they realized it was cheaper to move the house than to build new.
“It was crazy,” Amber said.
As for their existing home, she said they will relocate it on their property. They will re-purpose the ground floor while keeping the upstairs rooms intact.
She said she appreciates the concerns held by residents about the project, and welcomes them to contact her.