Monday, August 15, 2016

Ellicotts' movable house - an 1800 mobile home

When they were building a road going west from Ellicott's Mills, the Ellicott brothers had a house built on wheels where the road workers cooked and slept.  It was "drawn from place to place" and was the "first movable building seen in Maryland."  Perhaps it was a small house or possibly a part of a Conestoga wagon or like a Gypsy caravan.  Moving wooden or even brick buildings was surprisingly common in the US, as noted lighthouse engineer Stevenson described in 1838...

From the source: Brief account...Ellicott's Mills by George Ellicott's daughter -

"For the accommodation of the laborers engaged in the service, [building a road west from Ellicott's Mills] they built a house on wheels which was drawn from place to place by horses, being the first movable building seen in Maryland; it contained conveniences for cooking everything but bread, which was always baked and forwarded from the Mills, from the kitchen of John Ellicott…   This movable building besides the means of cooking, contained beds and bedding, and was besides a shelter for the men in rough weather."
A Brief Account of the Settlement of Ellicott's Mills by Martha Ellicott Tyson, 1871

A chapter from Sketch of the Civil Engineering of North America by David Stevenson London: 1838 gives  details on moving a house in New York, which he stayed longer to watch. He was one of the famed lighthouse engineering brothers, and his sons also designed lh, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson. HERE

More info from “House Moving” in Carpentry and Building, Feb. 1904 p43-44 HERE

Sketch is from: The Great Round World and what is going on in it.  Feb 25, 1897

©2016 Patricia Bixler Reber
Noteworthy women and historic homes of Ellicott City and Howard County, Md. HOME

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