Glenn and Denise Bowman always dreamed of restoring an old house.
Early in 2006, they bought a 5,600-square-foot home built about 1840. The imposing but time-worn Clarksville structure, formerly a dentist's office and commercially zoned, had lain vacant for nearly eight years and was slated for the wrecking ball by an automotive dealership that planned to develop the property.
The couple paid $1 for the house.
Then the fun - and the hassles - began.
"The hardest thing was finding the land for it," said Glenn Bowman, a lighting and design consultant. "We wanted one acre and ended up with three."
After spending $650,000 for a large plot edged with lush pines, the Bowmans then had to make sure their substantial diamond in the rough would conform to the covenants of the upscale Howard County neighborhood to which they planned to move it.
That done, the great relocation process began.
Now any move has its elements of stress. Packing up, throwing out, then loading precious possessions onto a truck for the journey to another home can rattle the nerves. The process takes on an entirely new dimension, however, when the house itself is moved - in this case about three miles.
"The process took 16 hours across three days," Glenn Bowman recalled. "The movers spent a week preparing everything."
The home's lovely front porch, with its six massive Doric columns, had to be torn down and discarded because of water damage, though the Bowmans were able to save the columns for use later.
On moving day, a portion of Route 32 was closed from midnight to 6 a.m. Hours into the job, an axle broke and the truck was towed to the side of the rural road. Once repairs were made, the house completed its journey. But the Bowmans were still weeks away from living in it.
The foundation was built after the house was in place on the property. The movers jacked up the house to above where the foundation would be.
"This took a month," Bowman said. "Then the movers came back, lowered the house onto the foundation [and] a mason filled in the holes."
Today, the Bowmans, ready to celebrate a third holiday season in their beautiful Colonial Revival, recount some added expenses. The cost for the move and the arrangements that had to be made with the utility companies came to $80,000.
Even in a house whose bones are good, additional costs, such as the restoration of more than 70 windows, the installation of two-zone heating and air conditioning, the construction of a new front porch (with old wood), the installation of a rear patio and new roof, all new electric and plumbing, and the cost of a new foundation has totaled more than $150,000.
But the couple has no doubt that all of the expense and effort has been worth it as they continue the restoration of their three-bedroom home with two full baths and a finished attic. Their reasoning seems logical: Many people rescue dogs; the Bowmans rescued a home. If a piece of land won't keep a house, then take the house to a new piece of land.
"We have a lot of dreams here, and we're sticking to them and getting a lot done," Denise Bowman said. "I have a picture in my mind of what I want."
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Making a dream home
Dream element:: The Bowmans' large home sits on three acres of beautifully landscaped property off Route 32 in Clarksville. Verdant pine trees form the periphery of the property, which is situated on a dead-end street.
Surprise feature:: In a neighborhood of magnificent, custom-built homes, the Bowmans' stately Colonial Revival is a step back in time, with a large center gable jutting from the roof along with two dormers showcasing Palladian windows. The overall exterior effect, with its floor-length windows and columned porch, is a delightful sight at the end of a long, winding street. The home's interior features an open, circular layout around a center hallway. A sweeping arch to the ceiling's 9 1/2 -foot height, separates the living and dining rooms.
Personal touch:: As interior restoration continues (with frequent trips to salvage yards), the couple moved several favorite trees from the home's previous lot to their new location. In the backyard, for example, they replanted a 28-foot pin oak, a 24-foot red maple and a river birch. In the front yard, they transplanted a 30-foot sycamore and another red maple.