Rain stalls work on McDermott House move

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 14, 2001

Bricks and the front porch of the McDermott House surround the frame of the house off South Street.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[12/14/01]A Kosciusko contractor said McDermott House and the bricks and rubble strewn around it won’t be moved from 1100 South St. until next month.

Rain has delayed work on the 96-year-old home, originally scheduled to be moved across the street to 1111 and 1115 South St. this week to make room for expansion by First Presbyterian Church.

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The move, to be handled by Kosciusko Home Movers, can’t begin until Parson Construction of Vicksburg finishes stripping the building of its bricks, many of which must be preserved to maintain McDermott House’s historic character.

Freddie Parson, owner of the construction company, said he expects to be on the job for another week, depending on the weather.

“We’ve been held back since it’s rained so much already,” Parson said, adding that his crew has been working an average of three days a week since starting on Nov. 16.

John Williams, owner of Kosciusko Home Movers, said that means he won’t be able to move the house until after Jan. 1.

“With the way the weather’s been and the Christmas holidays coming up, I can’t see me getting started on it until the new year,” Williams said.

Parson and his crew have already moved about 35,000 brown bricks to the house’s new site, where they will be reattached after the move. Other bricks from the house are being left at the current site, where they are being used to fill in a sinkhole so that Williams’ crew will be able to operate on a level field when they move the house.

“That’s why all this stuff is laying around here,” Parson said, pointing to the broken bricks and rubble that surround McDermott House.

Parson and his workers are stripping bricks from the house with a backhoe. Once all of the bricks are removed, the shell of the house will be jacked onto a truck, hauled across the street and placed on a new concrete foundation.

Williams said BellSouth and Entergy are cooperating on the project, allowing power lines to be put on the ground and covered with steel pipes to avoid damage during the move.

“The process of moving the house itself will take about a week,” Williams said.

McDermott House, built in 1905, has been the subject of public discussion since 1999 when First Presbyterian Church proposed razing it to make room for parking and Sunday school facilities.

The church’s plans were thwarted by a Vicksburg ordinance that requires the city’s Board of Architectural Review to sign off on any plans to demolish a building on the National Register of Historic Places. The board issued three demolition stays for McDermott House, which has been on the register since 1983.

The church, which bought the house last year, worked out a compromise this summer in which Nelda Sampey, a board member, was given the house and $9,000 in exchange for her promise to move and renovate the house. The $9,000 helps Sampey, also the owner of the Steigelman House on Main Street, offset the $60,000 cost of moving the McDermott House.

Sampey’s husband, Malcolm, said the couple is upbeat about the move.

“Things are pretty stagnant right now,” he said. “But I’m sure it’s going to work out great once (Williams) gets over here.”