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It Took a Village to Move a Tiny House in Shelburne


Karen and Chris Rodgers with twin boys John and Julian - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Karen and Chris Rodgers with twin boys John and Julian

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

The home was built by Shelburne-based Way of the Bard, a group of teenagers who raise awareness about social issues through performance art. The program is run by Joplin Wistar and Alison James, who operate the Treewild Forest Classroom, a year-round outdoor learning school. Four years ago, the group raffled off a tiny home to pay for a trip to Ireland. This June, the students are headed to Wales.

But this year's tiny home is, well, not so tiny. It's 36 square feet larger than its predecessor and nearly twice as tall. That posed a problem: Once atop a flatbed trailer, the house would be dangerously close to utility lines.

Rodgers and his wife, Karen, contacted moving companies that could haul it — but all of them said they'd have to remove the roof and use a crane, which would cost thousands of dollars. The Rodgers' 10-year-old twin boys, John and Julian, were getting discouraged.

Then Wistar found a man with a plan. George McRae, a tow truck operator from Milton, suggested using wooden runners, like the skids ice fishermen use to move their shanties. After 44 years towing all manner of objects, McRae was confident he could make the 1.7-mile trek from Wistar's home to the Rodgers'.

Moving day finally came late last week. A crew of volunteers flanked McRae's wrecker, toting long poles to lift any low-hanging overhead wires. The acting Shelburne police chief and a highway crew member joined the caravan, and spectators lined the roadside to watch the slow-moving parade. A neighborhood kid set up an impromptu hot chocolate stand.

Karen arrived just in time to see McRae back the tiny home into place. She was so relieved, she ran over and gave McRae a big hug.

The Rodgers family has used the home every day since it was delivered. The post-and-beam structure — with its hand-milled beams, a sleeping loft and brightly painted trim — has been a sanctuary.

"You feel that magic when you go into the house," Karen said, thanking everyone involved in the move. "They made the impossible possible."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Tiny Miracle"