New start for old house
Two women stood beside a simple brick house, gazing fondly at the structure like an old friend.
For one woman, the house is her past. For the other, it is her future.
Clydie Hunsucker Beal, of Conover, grew up in the two-story house on N.C. 16. Her parents, Clyde and Ruby Hunsucker, built the house in 1948 after her father returned home from serving in World War II.
"He planted everything on the property," Beal said. "He said he wore out three shovels planting."
Beal and her three sisters grew up in the house, which has three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a separate dining room and a basement.
But after Beal's parents moved out of the house and passed away, the property was vacant and eventually rezoned for commercial use.
Beal and her husband, Conover City Council member Don Beal, put the property up for sale with a commercial-zoned sign in the front yard.
That's when Brenda Lail fell in love with the house she calls "an English cottage that just drew me (in)."
Love at first sight
Lail lives in Taylorsville, but was passing through Conover in December 2009 on her way to a doctor's appointment. She saw the sign and pulled into the lot to call the listed number.
"I saw the 'Commercial For Sale' sign and I said 'Oh, what a beautiful home,'" Lail said. "I wondered if it would have to be torn down."
Lail called the Beal residence, and before long, discussion started about the possibility of moving the house.
"I was tickled to death, because I sure wanted it saved," Beal said of hearing that Lail was interested in saving the house and moving it to Hickory.
Lail called a structure-moving company in Hickory who told her moving the 50-year-old home was impossible.
She refused to listen.
Lail called the company who moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on Hatteras Island, and they suggested contacting Chuck Crouch, of the Crouch Brothers House Moving Contractors in Mooresville. Crouch and his team agreed to take on the project, and Beal couldn't have been more thrilled that her childhood home was going to have a new life.
"It's a new beginning for that house," Beal said. "It's a lot better than not saving it. It'll be fixed up."
Beal was so thankful to Lail for saving the house that she agreed to sell the structure for $1.
"I said, 'Oh my gosh, thank you,'" Lail said. "I hung up the phone and cried."
In return, Lail will pay the cost for filling in the land where Beal's former basement once was.
The big move
Motorists traveling toward Wal-Mart on N.C. 16 will notice major construction on the house, which is in the final stages before its big move to Hickory.
It took almost 18 months for the moving process, but the day has almost arrived. Beal and Lail estimate the move will happen Sunday, if all goes well.
The house will travel in two pieces to a lot behind the Bumgarner Gardens housing development near Springs Road in Hickory.
Beal was told the move will take about three hours to travel up N.C. 16 North to Hickory. The main part of the structure will be put on steel beams, and the house's roof will travel on the road in a flat-bed trailer.
The home's new location is owned by the family of Lail's husband, Tim. Much like the lot the house will soon be leaving, the new location will have trees surrounding the property's edge.
Lail estimated it will take about six months after the move to put final touches on the house, including a property addition, landscaping and decorating. In total, Lail estimated everything will cost about $200,000.
But those expenses are well spent, said Lail. She has big plans for her new home, including a reading nook for her grandchildren. She and Tim want to move in the house four months after the move and will start making, what was once the Hunsucker house, into the Lail home.
"Hopefully," Lail said, "it's gonna look like it has been there forever."