Longwood Gardens Moves Historic Cox House

March 22, 2024 3:31 pm

Bancroft Construction and Wolfe House & Building Movers, LLC., successfully relocated the Cox House in Kennett Square, PA. Built in 1790, the house was named after Quaker farmers and social justice reformers, John and Hannah Cox. John and Hannah lived in the house from 1829 to 1880 and used their property as a safe haven for escaped enslaved persons and freedom seekers, guiding them to other safe houses along the Underground Railroad. Recognizing the house’s cultural significance and history, Longwood Gardens acquired the house in 2001.

Longwood, known for their commitment to preservation, decided to move the building 100 feet from its original location in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Route 1 expansion project. Before its relocation, the 2.5-story house stood only 8 feet from the busy highway. From concept to completion, the house relocation required close coordination with Wolfe House & Building Movers on the scope of work and all preliminary work needed to support the building structurally. With a combination of support from various trade partners, the house was prepared for relocation approximately two months before the move date. The house was temporarily supported with steel beams, and cribbing was placed underneath the structure, which was hydraulically lifted from its original foundation. The house relocation started promptly at 9 am and was completed before 10 am, 1 hour later. After the move, the house will remain on the steel and cribbing until new masonry foundation walls are constructed at the bottom of the house. Overall, the project will take approximately one year from concept to completion. The total cost of the project from preconstruction to completion is approximately $1.4MM, and the project is slated to be completed in April 2024. Moving the house involved thorough preparations, including creating a foundation that mirrors the original in size and configuration. Project teams raised the house from its foundation and placed it on temporary rails before transportation. Steel cables, temporary walls, and careful bracing ensured the house’s integrity throughout the relocation process. The house weighed 287 tons, and the relocation took under one hour but required weeks of preparation.

Special thanks to Longwood Gardens for allowing Bancroft the opportunity to complete this rare project.
The project Design Team from John Milner Architects, Larson & Landis, and Pennoni for their support.
And to the Bancroft project team: Superintendent, Ed Anthony; Assistant Project Manager, Brian Minker; Project Coordinator, Jami Cummins; Senior Project Manager, John Stevenson; and Senior Project Manager and Bancroft Longwood Site Lead, Tony Ingram.