On the move
Buildings are being shuffled to make room for Commerce School’s return to the Lawn
Most moves involve corrugated cardboard boxes and packing tape. Varsity Hall’s upcoming move, however, involves plywood, timbers and steel — lots of it.
In preparation for moving U.Va.’s first infirmary, built in 1858 and containing a unique ventilation system designed to treat typhoid, Expert House Movers of Virginia Beach braced and bound the masonry building, made holes through its ground floor and inserted steel beams through the holes. Then, the two top floors of Varsity Hall were lifted several inches and separated from the original ground floor, which had been partially built into a hillside. The lift was accomplished by a unified hydraulic jack system — a company specialty that allows a single person to control the entire jacking operation.
Meanwhile, preliminary site work has begun near Randall Hall. Once the work is finished and a concrete pad has been laid, Varsity Hall will be moved onto the site, sometime in early to mid-April. The steel beams and bracing will be left under the building until its ground floor is rebuilt and the top floors can be lowered onto it and rejoined. A complete renovation will follow.
Varsity Hall’s move is necessary to accommodate an upcoming 115,000-square-foot expansion of Rouss Hall, which will become the new home of the McIntire School of Commerce.
For the record, Varsity Hall is not the first historic building on Grounds to be relocated by Expert House Movers. In 1992, the company moved the Lady Astor Squash Courts, built in 1937, alongside the Lady Astor Tennis Courts to make room for the construction of the Central Grounds Parking Garage on Emmet Street. By comparison to U.Va.’s relatively small squash court building, the company holds the world record for relocating the heaviest building ever moved on wheels: the Historic Gem Theatre in Detroit, which is five stories tall and weighs 2,750 tons.
Photos by Andrew Shurtleff / bottom photo courtesy of the Daily Progress
|(Top four photos) Work on bracing and lifting Varsity Hall began mid-December. The hydraulic jacks used to lift the topmost floors of the building off its ground floor are located inside protective cribbing made of 6-inch by 6-inch wood beams, which can be seen best just inside the orange construction fencing in the two photos at top. (Bottom photo) To make room for the relocation of Varsity Hall and the expansion of Rouss Hall, the gate booth formerly located at the intersection of Rouss and Hospital drives gets a lift from Expert House Movers to a temporary location at the north end of Hospital Drive. The south section of Hospital Drive from Jefferson Park Avenue to Randall Hall will be closed March 19, and will remain closed until the Rouss Hall expansion is completed in approximately 28 months.