It took a village to move a small house in Shelburne | True 802 | Seven days

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  • Karen and Chris Rodgers with twins John and Julian

On a whim last fall, Chris Rodgers bought a raffle ticket for a small craft house – and won. But he didn’t expect it would literally take a village to move the thing.

The house was built by Way of the Bard of Shelburne, a group of teenagers who raise awareness of social issues through performance art. The program is run by Joplin Wistar and Alison James, who operate the Treewild Forest classroom, a year-round outdoor learning school. Four years ago, the group raffled off a small house to pay for a trip to Ireland. In June, the students go to Wales.

But this year’s tiny house is not so small. It’s 36 square feet larger than its predecessor and almost twice as tall. This posed a problem: once on top of a flatbed trailer, the house would be dangerously close to power lines.

Rodgers and his wife, Karen, contacted moving companies who could transport him, but all said they would have to remove the roof and use a crane, which would cost thousands of dollars. The Rodgers’ 10-year-old twins, John and Julian, were getting discouraged.

Then Wistar found a man with a plan. George McRae, a tow truck operator from Milton, suggested using wooden skids, like the skids ice fishermen use to move their shacks. After 44 years of towing all manner of things, McRae was confident he could make the 1.7 mile journey from Wistar’s house to the Rodgers’.

Moving day finally arrived at the end of last week. A team of volunteers flanked McRae’s tow truck, carrying long poles to lift low overhead cables. Shelburne’s acting police chief and a member of the highway crew joined the caravan, and onlookers lined the road to watch the parade in slow motion. A neighborhood kid has set up an impromptu hot chocolate stand.

Karen arrived just in time to see McRae put the little house back in place. She was so relieved that she ran over and gave McRae a big hug.

The Rodgers family have used the house every day since it was delivered. The post-and-beam structure – with its hand-milled beams, mezzanine, and brightly painted trim – has been a sanctuary.

“You feel that magic when you walk into the house,” Karen said, thanking everyone involved in the move. “They made the impossible possible.”

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