It took a village to move a small house in Shelburne | Where 802 | Seven days

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  • Politeness
  • Karen and Chris Rodgers with twin boys John and Julian

On a whim, Chris Rodgers bought a raffle ticket for a handmade tiny house last fall — and won. But he didn’t expect that it would literally take a village to move the thing.

The house was built by Shelburne’s Way of the Bard, a group of teenagers who raise awareness about social issues through performance art. The program is led by Joplin Wistar and Alison James, who operate the Treewild Forest Classroom, a year-round outdoor school. Four years ago, the group raffled off a tiny house to pay for a trip to Ireland. In June the students will go to Wales.

But this year’s tiny house isn’t, well, that tiny. It is 36 square meters larger than its predecessor and almost twice as high. That posed a problem: Once on top of a flatbed trailer, the house would be dangerously close to utility lines.

Rodgers and his wife, Karen, contacted moving companies who could transport it, but they all said they would have to remove the roof and use a crane, which would cost thousands of dollars. Rodgers’ ten-year-old twin boys, John and Julian, became discouraged.

Then Wistar found a man with a plan. George McRae, a Milton tow truck driver, suggested using wooden guides, like the skids ice fishermen use to move their shanties. After 44 years of dragging all sorts of items, McRae was confident he could make the 2.7-mile trek from Wistar’s home to the Rodgers.

Moving day finally came to an end last week. A crew of volunteers flanked McRae’s wrecker, lugging long poles to lift low-hanging overhead wires. Shelburne’s acting chief of police and a member of the highway crew joined the caravan and spectators lined the road to watch the slow-moving parade. A neighborhood boy set up an impromptu hot chocolate stall.

Karen arrived just in time to see McRae put the tiny house back in place. She was so relieved that she ran over to me and gave McRae a big hug.

The Rodgers family has used the house every day since its completion. The post-and-beam construction—with its hand-milled beams, a sleeping loft, and brightly colored trim—has been a sanctuary.

“You feel that magic when you enter the house,” Karen said, thanking everyone involved in the move. “They made the impossible possible.”

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