How I Moved And Restored My Old House: Part I, With Photos

The Dolphin House


When my husband (who is now deceased), Ralph F. Hyatt graduated from Veterinary School at the University of Georgia in 1965, he didn’t know where to set up his Equine practice. We knew we wanted to move to Florida. We first looked at the Ocala area, because there are lots of horses there. At that time, we had three children, and one on the way, so good schools were also important to us. After spending many days of traveling around the state, we happened on a town called Stuart. Stuart had only about 30,000 residents, but there were many ranches and dairies in the county. The schools were small, so there was no concern of overcrowding in the classrooms.

We went to the only Veterinary Clinic in the county, and Doc (this was our fond name for him) talked to the owner of the Clinic, and told him he had just graduated from Veterinary School, and was looking for a job. The owner was delighted, and hired Doc on the spot. Eventually, Doc started his own Veterinary practice. He was a very successful veterinarian until his death in 1988.

I Find A Suitable Lot For My Old House

After Doc died, I decided to find a smaller house to finish raising our 16 yr. old daughter. I bought a wooded lot, and I intended to build on that lot. But, as fate would have it, I learned of some old Florida Cracker houses that were going to be razed in order for a new condominium to be built. This was in July, 1981. They were going to be put up for auction. Potential buyers could inspect the houses and choose which one, or all, that they wanted to bid on. I took a friend who was a contractor with me to do the inspection. Out of four houses, we chose one. There was some slight termite damage, but other than that, the house was in fine shape. These houses were built in 1900, and served as guest houses. Each bedroom had a private bath. There was a central parlor for the guests to use, and a central living room. The houses all had Dade County hardwood pine flooring.

For those people who are not familiar with the term Florida Cracker House: These were woodframe homes used widely in the 19th century in Florida and they are still popular with some developers as a source of design themes. These houses are characterized by metal roofs, raised floors, large porch areas (often wrapping around the entire home), and straight central hallways from the front to the back of the home. They were built to take advantage of the Florida breezes since there was no air conditioning.

The four houses to be auctioned were named: Sailfish, Marlin, Dolphin, and Tarpon. The one I wanted was the Dolphin. The day of the auction was very exciting. I won the house I wanted! I paid $4,000.00 for the house, another $3,000.00 for a house mover to move the house 15 miles to my wooded lot. In order to move the house the building department had rules in place that all necessary work had to be approved by them. That included an Architect to draw the house just like it was a new house, plumbing and electrical work approved, the site plan had to be approved, and the approval of installing the septic system. This all had to be done before the house could be moved. All building codes had to be met. This process took me almost eight weeks, and in the meantime, the builders of the condominium were getting very impatient. The building department finally approved everything, and just when I thought I would lose the house, it was ready to be moved. Two of the buyers did lose their houses because they couldn’t get their necessary work done in time.

My Apologizes For The Quality Of The Photos Below

I pasted the photos of the moving of the house onto a Collage. I was unable to scan the photos for the computer, so I tried to take photos of those photos.

The later photos are some that I took with my camera, and they are much better.

My Collage


The House Travels One Mile Per Hour

On the day before the anticipated journey to my lot, the house mover had to take the entire roof off the house because it was so high it wouldn’t fit underneath power lines. They took it off just like you would remove a layer from a cake. I was sorry the fireplace had to be removed, but that was necessary to keep bricks from falling everywhere. I was amazed that there was no damage at all to the house after it was moved. Not one window was broken.

The House Has To Travel 15 Miles

The house had to travel 15 miles to reach my destination, and had to go over the Palm City Bridge which is quite high. This was a very exciting day, and I captured every step of the way on camera and made a collage of all the photos. I love to show visitors how the house was moved.

My Poorhouse With No Roof

It had not rained in our area for weeks, but as soon as the movers lowered the house onto its foundation, it began to pour. My beautiful high plaster ceilings all fell down onto the floor. I swept out the ceilings and cried.

My House On Top Of The Palm City Bridge


The Roof Has Been Replaced; And Is Now On Foundation


The Local Newspaper Interviewed Me For An Article About My Old House

After the house was restored, the local newspaper reporter came and interviewed me, and took photos to be used in the newspaper.

The Newspaper Article and Photo


My Old House: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Moving a house in south Florida is unheard of. I understand it is done in northern states where people move houses and barns, but not here. I spent $65,000.00 to bring the house up to code.

I like to think of all the families who stayed in this house way back when. I can almost hear them laughing and talking at times. I hope they know I have the house and how much I love it.

I have done the majority of renovating the inside of the house. I wore out three belt sanders on the pine paneling. I stained and varnished all of the paneling. I wallpapered all the rooms. This has been a work in progress, because I never get completely finished with the house. I can always look around and see something else I want to do to it.

I own a piece of history. My house reminds me of the house I grew up in in Georgia. I love my old house. I’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this old house. I wouldn’t want to go through what I did in order to move another house though. I’m very proud of my house. It has become somewhat of a museum, because I am a collector. I have to keep all the things my children and grandchildren have given me. My walls have no more room. I hope to live out the rest of my life IN MY OLD HOUSE THAT I MOVED AND RESTORED.

If you would like to see how the interior of the house looks after it was remodeled, I invite you to come into my house and take a tour. See the link below to enter my house.

The Dolphin House


The Yard I Enjoy


My Living Room


Do You Like Old Houses?

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Comments 63 comments

Nexusx2 profile image

Nexusx2 5 years ago

Hello Mary, I just wanted to say that I really liked your hub. Your old house is sure beautiful.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

You have a REAL mobile home. This is so interesting and the house is so cute. It must have been hard on your daughter to lose her father so young. Having this home to establish was good therapy. I really enjoyed this journey with you and your home.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Nexusx2, Thanks for taking the tour of my old house, and thanks for the compliment. Hope to see you again soon.

Hi Hypenbird, I never thought of it that way, but you're right: it was a mobile home! The house has been good for me for many reasons. Thanks for taking the tour. See you again soon.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

You have a lovely home - a beautiful reflection of all the love and care you lavished upon it. Well-done! Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Why, thanks, RedElf, for taking my tour. Yes, there is a lot of love in this old house. I wouldn't trade it with anyone.

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Wow, Mary! What an amazing story, I loved it. I love the name of your house too, The Dolphin. I thought it sad the plaster ceiling had to come down due to the rain. Bet that was so hard! Its amazing they can even move a home, and I think its so cool you chronicled the whole thing the way you have. Very special story. :)

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Thanks, oceansnsunsets!! So glad you took my tour. One day I'll do another one and show everyone all the rooms inside. As I said, my walls have no more room!

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

You are one feisty and amazing lady taking all this on when you were widowed so young and still raising a teenaged daughter but you did a great job and it's wonderful that you have the photos and the newspaper feature that was done about it.

I love your yard and front porch and it looks very homey inside.

Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up across the board except for funny.

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Mary, it would be neat to see more tours, keep them coming! You seem to have made great use of the room you do have with fun and pretty things. Thanks again. :)

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Your house is perfectly lovely. Makes me want to jump right up on that porch and sit down and admire the garden.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, my frieds! So glad you took the time to take my tour.

HBN:I like to think my house is "homey". People who like new modern stuff wouldn't like it, but I do. Thanks for the votes, too.

Hi oceansnsunsets: I might do a tour of the inside next. The house had a large attic, and I designed and built a large room that is my "retreat".

Gypsy Rose Lee, good to see you this morning! You all have made my day by liking my house! So glad you came by. See you soon...

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi again, my FRIENDS, Not my FRIEDS as I typed earlier. I just looked at that!

Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

Wow, that was an interesting story. You had a lot of courage to do something so unique. I love your house.

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Hey there Mary. I love old houses with history. You have did a great job on yours. I love all the pics. In the end, home is where the heart is Mary. Great work, voted up, awesome, and interesting. Have a great day and see you soon.

vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

I moved with your house.The dolphin house is so cute and the yard too. nice interesting hub.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Why, thank you, vasantha! I'm working now on Part II that will take you through my old house on a tour. Watch for that one. Good to see you.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Enlydia, Thanks for taking the time to read about my old house. I loved doing this, but I'd never do it again! I invite you to come into my house, and read Part II which I finally finished. See to see you.

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Oh Mary the house looks lovely and so inviting, I want to knock the door and come in for a chat!

Thank you for your story.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, MM, Thanks so much. I do hope you will come into my house...if you read Part II, the door is open for you! See you again, soon.....

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Hi there Mary 515 ! WOW! I've ALWAYS wanted to do this...and you DID it! I am SO impressed. What an undertaking...and to have transported the home over such an a whopping 1 MPH. Amazing! Yes, we share much in the way of admiring, respecting and restoring older structures whose beauty is just waiting to be re discovered. Can't wait to read Part II. I am in awe of your fantastic will and courage to attempt such a feat.

I also want to comment about your husband...what a dear he must have been...and a Veterinarian, too...old homes and animals...a perfect combination. I am sorry he is no longer with you and your daughter.

Two Thumbs UP!! And all positive buttons pushed!

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning,Lucky Cats! What a wonderful way to start my day: reading your comment! When I look back on this experience I think I must have been a little crazy! Of course, now I'm glad I did it. We have old houses here in my area that are being razed to make room for new modern houses. I wish I could rescue them all. Such beauty being destroyed. Yes, Doc was one of a kind! Thanks SO much for the votes, too! I hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you, my friend.

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

What a great deal! What I can see of the inside is so warm and lovely. Such an interesting read, thank you for sharing.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Pollyannalana! Thanks for looking at my old house! I invite you to come inside for a visit by readng Part II . I'd love to have you stop by. Have a wonderful day. Regards...

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Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Mary

Love your house and the picture of it being taken across the Palm City Bridge.

Now I have to check the inside. :-)

Voted up up and away!

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi again, Sue. Glad you read this! This was quite an experience, and one that I would never do again. Everyone thought I was crazy for doing this (I think they were right)! See you again soon. So glad you came inside for the visit, too. Thanks for the votes!

ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

I enjoyed the pictures of your old house, especially the ones where it is going over the bridge. What an accomplishment! You certainly made "moving day" quite a literal term.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Evening, ktrapp, Glad you enjoyed seeing how I moved my house. It was quite an experience. Read Part II when you have the time. Goodnight.

aboutaustralia profile image

aboutaustralia 5 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

That puts a whole new meaning on 'moving house'. That is such huge task, you should be so proud and I'm sure you are. Loved your hub, thanks for sharing, voted up!

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, aboutaustralia, thanks for reading about me moving my old house! Thanks, too, for the votes! When you have the time, take a tour of the inside of my house in Part II. I am very proud of my house, but I don't think I would be brave enough to ever do anything like that again. I hope you have a wonderful day, friend.

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 5 years ago from Chennai, India

Your Dolphin House is beautiful though its older version got its charm too! Nice story! Vote Up.

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida Author

Hi ishwaryaa22, thanks for reading about my moving my old house. Be sure and read Part II where I restored it. I'm very proud of my old house, it has a lot of charm. Thanks for the votes, too. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 5 years ago from Chennai, India

Happy New Year!

Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

Deepak Chaturvedi 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

nice story.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Deepak Chaturvedi. Thanks for reading my Hub on how I moved my house. Glad you like it. Read Part II when you have the time. Thanks.

Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

I am so glad you got your home! I'm sorry about the ceiling and fireplace. The house is gorgeous and I truly loved the inside picture,seems we have the same taste in furniture! great job! loved it!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Rusti Mccollum. Nice to see you today! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my old house, and for the nice compliment. I have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in my old house, but I love every inch of it. I still live in it and it is a work in progress. If you want to see more on the inside, check out Part II to come inside and look around. I'm so happy you loved my old house.

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Duchess OBlunt 4 years ago

What a labour of love! And what a success story! Your home is a true treasure, one you helped to build. Good going

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi Duchess OBlunt. Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub about moving my old house. It was truly an adventure and a labor of love. It is still a labor of love, because I never finish everything I want to do to it. Goodnight.

4FoodSafety profile image

4FoodSafety 4 years ago from Fontana, WI


I feel as if I could stop over for a bit of tea in your beautiful living room. Wow! I love old houses but it the collections and the character that makes a room come alive. Your personality is imprinted upon that room.

Thank you so much for sharing with us - I am honored to have a peak into the end result of salvaging an old home. It takes allot of faith to do what you did.

I met a man in Lake Geneva whose company specializes in this - I wish I had the time to photograph and video tape his process. I find it one of the wonders of the world.

The world is turning against old home and tearing them down and you have recognized the charm of yesteryear which takes a special insight.

Thank you for preserving the historical value of Americana charm.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi 4FoodSafety, thanks so much for reading about how I moved my old house. I'm so glad you stopped by! I do hope you will visit Part II after I restored my house. We don't have many of these old houses left in my area because people tear them down; breaks my heart! Thanks so much for your nice compliments. Goodnight.

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SusieQ42 4 years ago

I too live in Florida. My hometown is in Upstate NY, my oldest daughter and her husband, then my oldest son moved down here in the late 80's, early 90's and I came down in 1997. I do love old houses. The one I was raised in (my parents bought it in 1957) was built in 1869! Thanks for sharing. This is a great hub.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, SusieQ42, thanks for much for reading and taking the time to comment on My Old House! Thanks for the nice compliment on my Hub. Wow! Your parent's house was built in 1869. Yes, I love old houses, too. They have so much charm. Good evening.

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SusieQ42 4 years ago

My dad passed away 4 years ago, but mom still lives in the house they bought when I was 5 years old. It is large with 6 bedrooms and 2 stairways, one of which was for servants! It was a dairy farm but most of the buildings have fallen down since dad quit farming in the mid 60's. He then went to work for other farmers in the area and did this for the next 17 years. The stress was getting to both of them because of all the work involved and because they had 7 children, they didn't hire anyone to help with the field work and milking. The house and old smokehouse are still intact, however. Thanks for sharing about your "old house" and it is so neat that you had it moved! God bless, Susieq42

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi again, SusieQ42. So your Mom still lives in that big house! What a lot of work for her. I'd love to see that house; I'll bet it's a beauty. I would never move another house, it was too much work. I just didn't want to see it destroyed. I'm looking forward to following you!

carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

Cool story!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, carozy. Thanks for reading about how I moved my old house. When you have time checkout Part II which shows what it looks like now. Have a great day.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

What a wonderful story, Mary! I'm in awe of all you've done to make that house your own and a wonderful home.

I don't blame you for crying when the rains fell before the roof was replaced--especially after all you went through getting the house up to code before the move.

From the photos, it's a beauty now, and I love your garden!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good Morning, Jayne Wisdom, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my Hubs about moving and restoring my old house. I do love to talk about it because I am so proud of it. Iwould never do it gain, though! My friends and family thought I was nuts for moving this old house, but it was worth it.

Thanks for your nice compliment.

Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

Beautiful Mary, I love the pictures and that you have a piece of history!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Curiad, hello. Thanks for reading about how I moved my old house! I've always thought I might have lost my mind when I did this, but I do love my old house. I invite you to read Part II to see my old house furnished, and livable.

I'm happy you read this and liked my photos.

Bye for now, Mary

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Mary,

Even with the cost of moving and rebuilding part of the house, it was probably less expensive than building new...and you have a piece of history. Your Doc would have been proud of you! The floor plan sounds nice. Can't wait to read part 2. One does not see that many houses being moved. It always amazes me that it can be done without damage to the structure. Too bad about your ceiling and fireplace. Voted up, interesting and will share. Might give others an idea! :)

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Peggy W. Yes, I'm sorry Doc never got to see my old house...he would have loved it. The county wanted me to register my house with the local historical society, but I would have to get permission from them to change anything if I wanted to. I decided not to do that just for a plaque to put in the yard!

It is really unheard of to move a house here. They are just torn down to make way for a new one. So sad.

Thanks for reading, commenting and of course the share!

Goodnight, Mary

cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

Loved the pic of the house going over the bridge. It made me chuckle a bit. Going on to read part 2 now. Have a great day.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi cloverleaffarm. Yes, that was quite a sight: seeing my house go over the bridge. It was a real traffic stopper!

Thanks for reading and commenting, friend.


RunningDeer profile image

RunningDeer 4 years ago from Iowa

Your house is lovely. You have every right to be proud of your hard work!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi RunningDeer. Thanks for the nice compliment on moving and restoring my old house. I invite you to read Part II so you can see my house completed restored and furnished.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

Wow! I didn't know people could do this - literally move a house. Your pictures are fascinating - I even read pieces of your hub to my husband because it's so unheard of here. All the blood, sweat and tears look to be well worth it - your house is beautiful!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, MelChi. Thanks for reading about how I moved my old house. I would never do it again, but I do love my old house. This is done more often in the northern part of the US. Here in Florida, people don't move the houses, they just tear them down and build a new one on the lot. I just love old houses!

When you have time, read Part II and you will see how I decorated the inside.

Thanks for the nice compliment on my old house. Mary

Armchair Builder profile image

Armchair Builder 4 years ago from Hawaii

As a builder, I can totally appreciate the work that goes into moving a home. From the prep work on the home for moving to prepping the new lot, there is so much to do. Thanks for sharing this great story. You have built a wonderful home...It's definitely something to be proud of.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, Armchair Builder. Nice to see you! Thank you so much for your nice compliment on my Hub about moving my old house. Yes, there was a lot of prep work and work afterwards. In face, I'm still working on it! Seems there is always something that needs to be done.

See you again soon, Mary

oliwier profile image

oliwier 2 years ago from London, United Kingdom

I love looking at your house inside. Every corner was full of memories. Also, I got amased during the move.

mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida Author

Hi, oliwier Thanks for taking a look at how I moved my old house. Yes, the house is filled with wonderful memories. I really was an amazing day to see my house being moved!

My best, Mary

raquelle148 profile image

raquelle148 12 months ago

Your house restoration is awesome and you really preserve the memories.

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