Dave and Sue Lash won’t have to argue anymore over which of them should close their kitchen shutters to block out the blinding evening sun while they’re enjoying dinner.
“Because it’s always ‘You close the shutters,’ ” Dave Lash joked.
After they’re moved back into their East Franklin home, the sun won’t set through the kitchen window anymore in an ending to a peculiar story that involved watching their century-old house inch yesterday along their farmland.
On Thursday, the Lashes, along with several friends and family members, stood in muddy terrain to watch the 116-year-old home be moved to a different location on the property by Snyder Associated Companies, Inc. to allow for coal mining and Marcellus shale drilling. The home, which was moved because of its proximity to where the company wanted to mine, was propped up on beams and slowly maneuvered along the land with the help of steel sheets supporting tires carrying the 100-ton structure.
It was moved about a quarter-mile beginning around 9 a.m. to its new foundation closer to Adrian Road a few hours later.
Those who traveled to the farm to witness the process were impressed.
“This is something once-in-a-lifetime to see,” said Nancy Hooks, Sue Lash’s sister.
It was their father, Samuel Montgomery, now 93, who bought the farm in 1962 and used it for dairy cows. When the Lashes were married in 1974, they were given the 400 acres and the original home which was moved yesterday.
“I helped farm this ground,” Hooks said. “This is totally amazing.”
Along with the home being aligned differently with the sun’s rising and setting, the Lashes will be living closer to Adrian Road. Before, they couldn’t hear traffic or see neighbors other than wildlife.
“It’s been a joy to be back in here, it’s private,” Dave Lash said standing near the former foundation.
But they have sometimes been snowed in and as the couple ages, they would like to be closer to the road in the event of a health emergency, he said.
Sue Lash agreed that it will be an adjustment to the road noise.
“I’ll be able to see civilization other than air traffic,” she said.
One of the Lashes’ twin boys, Gabriel Lash of Center Hill, came to watch his childhood home move.
“Every inch of this property we know,” he said. “I’ve made passes on every inch of this property.”
The home was built in 1875 and the basement foundation currently remains. A nearby barn with a date marker of 1896 is to be demolished, Dave Lash said.
Samuel Montgomery purchased the land from the Wyant and Zeigler families, Dave Lash said, and eventually turned it over to his daughter Sue when she married. Underneath where the house sat up until yesterday is a large block of coal, he said.
Everything was left in tact in the home while it was transported to its final resting place, with the exception of china plates and other collectibles belonging to Sue Lash.
“This house used to be the center of the community,” she said, recalling a story told to her.
In the early 1900s, 15 farm families would socialize at the home on Saturday evenings with square dances and then sleep overnight. The weekends would be finished off with Sunday church services.
“That’s why we didn’t want it to be destroyed,” Sue Lash said.
For years, Dave Lash said, Snyder Associated Companies had been asking for the opportunity to get at what is underneath the surface..
“Snyder has always wanted to get in here and mine the coal,” he said. “We lived here 37 years with them coming and going.”
The Upper and Lower Freeport coal seams run throughout the property, he said, and there are opportunities for Marcellus shale drilling.
Finally, the Lashes decided to allow for the mining that they were told will take three to five years and be followed by a reclamation project to return the land to its original form. But, there were conditions imposed by Sue Lash — Snyder Associated Companies would either buy their house or move it if the couple were to allow mining.
The company agreed to relocate the home.
“So then that pulled her bluff,” Dave Lash laughed.
Contractors from Don Burke Excavating, Inc. in Fenelton have worked for about two weeks to prepare the land. The move was conducted by Wolfe House and Building Movers from Bernville. L.A. Miller & Sons General Construction in Worthington will build a basement once the home settles in.
Lash was pleased with the economic benefit of an increase in local jobs through the agreement. In addition, he believes it is a good investment for his family as coal and Marcellus shale are in great demand right now.
“This is our decision for moving our house closer to the main road,” he said.
While Gabriel Lash holds sentimental memories of his childhood on the farm and knows that the land may never be the same, “you can’t stand in the way of progress.”
“I think it’s all for the better,” he said.
“My 5-year-old’s just amazed,” he said. “They’re just so excited to see it happening.”
With the original wood frame still in place, the Lash and Montgomery families have a lot of memories in the home. It has been renovated by the Lashes after they moved in and brick could replace siding in the future.
But the main part of the home — its character — is being preserved with the move.
“It has a lot of class to it and that’s why we kept it,” Dave Lash said.
Now it will have even more appeal as the Lashes can eat dinner in sunshine-free peace.