- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Weber grill is on the balcony. The air conditioners are in the windows.

Everything in Charlesetta Taylor’s house is as she left it: furniture in the living room, coats in the closet.

But on Sunday, Taylor’s 2½-story brick house was inching a few feet per minute away from its old address, 2530 North Market Street, to its new location about seven-tenths of a mile across town, 2200 St. Louis Avenue.

“Only in my wildest imagination,” Taylor, 81, said, as her house crept north on Parnell Street shortly after sunrise.

The move was necessary to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which plans to build a $1.75 billion campus on the Near North Side and move 3,100 employees there, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/2m3HYji ) reported.

The St. Louis Development Corp. promised to deliver a 97-acre site - bounded by Cass Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, the alley south of St. Louis Avenue, and 22nd Street - by next year. The city has controlled the site since December and has begun the $100 million job of relocating residents and businesses, demolishing buildings and preparing the site.

Taylor had been one of the most vocal opponents of the project, collecting signatures on a petition to fight the eminent domain project. Nearly 100,000 people signed her online petition to save her home, which saw three generations of her family and 13 children grow up.

Then the city promised it would move any house in the NGA area to another site. Taylor was the only one of 110 property owners to take the city up on its offer. Indeed, most of the 136 structures in the area were in poor shape.

“The most important things in life cannot be purchased with money,” Taylor said of the memories made in her home and her decision to move the structure.

The cost of moving Taylor’s house was about $500,000, including the new lot on St. Louis Avenue and temporary removal of power lines on Parnell Street to allow passage of the home. It might have cost about that much for the city to buy and demolish the house, based on what it paid for other homes in the area, according to Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay.

“This is making good on a promise that we made,” Slay said in a statement.

The home was built in 1891 for $2,500. Charles W. and Eddie B. Brown bought the home in 1945, and it has been owned by the Brown and Taylor family ever since.

The move got underway about 7 a.m.

People from across the area gathered to gawk at the spectacle: a 370-ton brick house sitting on 11 eight-wheel hydraulic dollies, inching down a city street. It had the weight of as many as 90 adult Asian elephants.

“I think it’s a great thing to allow her to have her house moved and allow her to spend her last days in her own house,” said Ronald Scott, 71, of the nearby Carr Square neighborhood. He and his cousin, Diavalo LaRosa, 60, “made a date to come out here and see this.”

Shelley von der Lancken, of University City, brought her daughter Julia, 9, and friend Gaby Siedband, 9. They had heard about the house move on local television news.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com


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