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Oct. 2011 story: Historic house moved 30 miles to be home of Willmar couple

Workers with Stubbs Builders and Movers of Long Lake move a home Thursday across Minnesota Highway 23 at the intersection with Kandiyohi County Road 5. The three-story home, built in 1894, began its journey Monday in Litchfield. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

WILLMAR -- A historic house once prominent on Litchfield's signature street, Sibley Avenue, is now a feature of the prairie landscape just west of Willmar.

Stubbs Builders and Movers, of Long Lake, delivered the three-story house on Thursday afternoon to its new location south of Minnesota Highway 40. The journey had started on Monday at 201 Sibley Avenue in Litchfield.

The house moving progressed at a snail's pace due to the large size and weight of the structure, and the need to trim trees, lift power lines and cross railroad lines.

The 30-plus-mile journey led to a harvested soybean field, where a mechanical breakdown of the truck pulling the house halted its progress Thursday afternoon about 50 yards from the goal. Workers will be rolling the house over an excavation made for it, and a basement will be built.

Originally known as the Fred Kopplin home, it has been a part of Litchfield since 1894, according to information its new owners obtained.

It will now be the home of Melanie and Adam Dickman.

Melanie (née Boike) is a Willmar native and recently accepted a district conservationist position in Swift County. It allowed the couple and their two children to move back to Willmar, she said.

They were looking for an historic house with character, said Melanie Dickman. They wanted a home with quality woodworking and materials, and believed an older home offered the most affordable option.

Their search led to the house in Litchfield, where a major expansion by First District is under way. The house the Dickmans purchased was to have been demolished if it was not sold and moved, she said.

Melanie Dickman said they had been told there once was a tunnel from the home to the lumber yard.

One of the home's previous owners, Warren McQuay, was the town's postmaster and also very passionate about history. He meticulously maintained and restored the structure.

The exterior of the house was in the process of being stripped to be repainted when its last owners learned of First District's intentions to buy it. The painting project was stopped, leaving the outside looking a little out of character, said Melanie.

Inside, she and her husband found the house offered all they hoped. The couple and their two young children will be making it their new home in a matter of weeks.

The land it now sits on was once leased and farmed by Melanie's father, and had come up for sale in a timely manner for the couple. They will be able to realize their goal of operating a small farm as well, she added.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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