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History of the Crowe Family Business


Holy Name Cathedral - Then & Now (Chicago, IL) 

Church moved in one day...January 9, 1914. 

 

Lady of the Lourdes Church 

Lady of the Lourdes ChurchIn 1927 Our Lady of Lourdes Church on the north side of Chicago, then one of Chicago's largest and most influential parishes was moved. The project was considered one of the engineering wonders of its day and still is remembered by people living on the north side of Chicago The church, which was built in 1916, had to be moved because it was on the city right of way for the widening of Ashland Avenue. The pastor was not a happy man when he got the letter from the city of Chicago telling him that his church had to be torn down or moved off city property. He contacted Crowe Bros, Moving to see if anything could be done. They devised a way to move this great structure.

The tolerance for all the shoring timbers and track set to raise, turn, move 400 feet, set down, split in half and move one section about 50' back was 1/16". This move was a true art as well as a science. Imagine the figuring required to determine structural support needed, location of rigging, points to add pressure, cost of the work and other items.

Everything was figured on a slide rule as no computers or adding machines were available. A $300,000 bond was issued for this job because of its complexity. It is truly an amazing feat.



Post Office in Kenosha, Wisconsin

The photo shows the post office in the process of being moved. The shoring looks like a set of Lincoln logs. This was a masterpiece of shoring and moving. This picture is probably taken during the late 1920's or very early 1930's. You can bet that the men erecting this shoring did not have to go to a health club or go for a run after a day at work, as all the shoring pieces were installed by hand. You can now see warning barriers erected around the site.




 



St. Luke's Hospital Annex Building in Aberdeen, South Dakota

In 1940 and 1941 the St. Luke's Hospital Annex Building, a 4 ½ story concrete frame brick building, was moved. This job was interesting because it was moved through all of Aberdeen, South Dakota, around many sharp corners and through narrow streets. It finally was located adjacent to St. Luke's Hospital. Weighing about 4,000 tons, it was connected by a tunnel to the hospital and served as the hospital isolation wards. A newspaper article, in the November 30, 1941, Aberdeen America newspaper, talks about how the public was fascinated by this move and that the Sisters of St. Luke were the driving force behind this project. A sequence of photos in the paper were used to describe the unbelievable moving scenes. The newspaper article calls this an exact science, and it also mentions that work had to stop in mid-street as the rollers on one side of the building had to be removed and reinstalled because of a ¼" miscalculation. This meant a several-day rework.

The photo shows the post office in the process of being moved. The shoring looks like a set of Lincoln logs. This was a masterpiece of shoring and moving. This picture is probably taken during the late 1920's or very early 1930's. You can bet that the men erecting this shoring did not have to go to a health club or go for a run after a day at work, as all the shoring pieces were installed by hand. You can now see warning barriers erected around the site.

The hospital is moving from left to right in the photo. At the left rear, there can be seen several screw jacks pushing sideways to help make the turn. The quarter of a turn on each screw jack method was used to make the first turn off the original site as shown here. Though not shown in any of the photos, the use of truck mounted winches is mentioned.

St. Luke HospitalThe hospital was moved left to right down the street (where the railroad rails lay), and made a right turn onto an open lot just right of the photo. The building then was backed into the final location. The Crowe Company allowed two inches for settlement of blocking in the basement and one inch for the blocking in the street.

During this move a property owner adjacent to the move path threatened a lawsuit if the building should so much as cross the plane of his property line. Unfortunately, this happened to be at a spot where an extremely tight turn needed to be made. Despite the threat, all the necessary calculations were made, the rigging was set and a sight glad was mounted on the roof of the leading corner of the building. Due to the extreme caution and care that was taken by the Crowe Bros., no lawsuit was even filed. It should be noted that the building owner was foolish to threaten these men who loved mothering better that a good challenge. John V. Crowe died soon after this move was completed.

The moving part of the job is done. Now the pile of screw jacks shown in the photo, plus many others not show, totaling 600 jacks have to be placed to remove the 1,000 rolls that were under the building on this move.
Adjustments were always being made during a move. One had to be willing to make instant decisions as the move evolved. Records say more that 600 jacks were used for this move, and somewhere between 600 and 1,000 rollers. These rollers were aligned with saddles and shoes. These were devices which transmitted the weight of the building to the rollers. 300 tons of equipment was placed by hand under this building, getting it ready to move. The move and a complete remodeling of the building cost $75,000 while the building valuation, after completion was $150,000.

This is a current photo from about the same angle as the photo taken 55 years ago. A tunnel was built at the time of the move, from the main hospital to the moved in annex. Now there is a bridge from one to the other. The frieze was removed as well as the chimney to make the building styles similar.


(Photos courtesy of Presentation College Archives)