Woodlands, Oakhurst and Breezy Point Mansions 1902

From: The Clinton Herald, April 16, 1902, P. 5
Transcribed by a Clinton County IaGenWeb volunteer.


Work On New Residences Is Well Under Way.

M. J. Gates and R. B. McCoy Will Erect Handsome Homes on the Summits of the Bluffs – The Lamb Residence Will be Removed to Ringwood.

Woodland, Oakhurst and Breezy Point from Courthouse towerUpon the Ringwood bluffs a force of fifty men or so are at work preparing the grounds for the erection of the residences of R. B. McCoy, M. J. Gates and Dwight Lamb, three handsome structures which will crown the bluffs above the court house. The men, with their teams, have been busy for several days, and have already worked a transformation in the place. At the foot of the hills roads are being constructed, and the grounds are being cleared, and improved where necessary. However, but few alterations are needed on the grounds, as they will be allowed to remain in their present state of natural beauty, thickly wooded with grand old forest trees.

Bluff mansions gates oakhurstOne would need to take a long journey out of Clinton to find a spot more suitable for a home than either of the Ringwood bluffs whereon the costly dwellings are to be erected. Among the natural advantages of the place, the elevation is not the least. Oakhurst (for such is to be the name of Mr. Gates’ villa) occupies the central position, with the McCoy residence on the north, and the Lamb residence on the south.

A Herald reporter strolled to the top of the eminence today to look over the city from that point of vantage. The view of the city and river is unobstructed from Oakhurst, as it is also from the other hills, and the scene presented is a charming one. In the immediate foreground stretching away from the foot of the gradual slope which mounts at its summit to a height of 135 feet above the river’s level, are the trim well kept Ringwood commons; then the clustering dwelling houses of the central districts of the city, and, beyond, the river, spanned by the high bridges of Lyons and Clinton. Thecourt house occupies a prominent position in the foreground, while to the southward the view is partially obscured by the smoke that ascends from the tall chimneys of the factories along the river bank. No point affords a better view of the river and the high and low lands of Illinois beyond, than do the Ringwood bluffs. And it would be difficult to find a spot more favored by nature for a place of abode than this. Although but few blocks from the heart of the city, by reason of its location and altitude, it gives the quiet of a country home. The summer heat is tempered by the breezes from the river, and the general restfulness of the surroundings is a characteristic of the place.

The three residences and grounds will occupy an area of fifty acres. Ground has been broken for the Gates residence, a two story cement structure, to be built after a Spanish design, airy and commodious. The cellar has been excavated and a portion of the foundation put into place. The foundation for the barn also is down, and the work is progressing on the other outbuildings. Next week excavating for the McCoy residence, on the north bluff, will commence. This, it is understood, is to be built on English plans. Mr. Lamb will not build, but will, instead, move the residence on Sixth avenue which he now occupies, to the south bluff, apparently a difficult undertaking, but one that can be readily accomplished.

The construction work on the houses will occupy the greater part of the year, and it is probable that the residences will not be ready for occupancy until a year from the present spring.



Transcriber note: The three homes were owned by Lamb siblings – James Dwight Lamb, Mrs. Marvin J.(Emma Lamb) Gates and Mrs. Russell B.(Clara Lamb) McCoy.

History Made in Clinton When 300-ton House Was Moved to Top of 80-foot Bluff.
The Clinton Herald, Friday, July 16, 1954, P. 8

First Complete Story of 1902 Feat.
By The Roving Reporter

Moving a three-story, 26-room frame house 11 blocks through the heart of the city and then hoisting it up to the top of an 80-foot bluff would be considered quite an engineering feat today even with all the modern machinery and equipment.

It naturally becomes all the more impressive when you consider this job was accomplished right here in Clinton 52 years ago.

The house in question is “Woodlands,” now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Zastrow, and which is located atop the bluff north of the Congregational church. It was moved there from the northwest corner of Sixth avenue, South and Fifth street.

Because available history books of Clinton county fail to mention the amazing operation, only a handful of “old timers” are familiar with its detail.

From them and old files of The Herald, your writer was able to piece together the full story.

It was back in April of 1902 that Dwight Lamb contacted the firm of Crowe brothers of Chicago, famous movers, and told them he wanted his home, estimated to weigh about 300 tons, moved from its downtown location to the bluffs.

The project posed numerous problems, even for a firm with the know-how of the Crowe Brothers. Among other things the structure was too wide for passage northward along Fifth street, then only a dirt street.

A.J. Crowe came out from Chicago to personally supervise the job and brought with him a crew of trained experts. In addition they hired some local help, including P. H. Dall, who now resides at 1513 South Bluff Blvd.

One of the first steps was to tear off one of the porches and one small addition. Then the house had to be pried loose from its two-foot stone foundation and a special platform built underneath it. Under those sections where the most strain was exerted, steel rails were used to provide additional support.

Most of the timbers in the platform were 18 inches by 18 inches and 70 feet long. Eight carloads of lumber were brought from Chicago for the job.

Once the house was inched over to the street, maple rollers were placed underneath the supporting platform and the towering structure began slowly moving northward on special timber tracks.

The motive power was furnished by teams of horses hitched to a winch.

Extreme care had to be exercised as the furnishings had not been removed and the contract called for no major damage to plastered walls.

It is said that the grandfather clock inside the home never stopped during the three months required to complete the job and that water didn’t even splash out of vases.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In many cases branches of trees obstructed the passage, and property owners became irate if they were damaged. Reports have it that hundreds of dollars were paid out in damages to owners of the trees.

Because of the height of the house the Iowa Telephone company had to remove its overhead lines and allow the house to pass over the main cable. The same was true with telephone lines.

Adding to the difficulties was a series of unseasonable rains which turned Fifth street into a quagmire.

By this time the house-moving became a nine-day wonder” in Clinton with scores of kibitzers lining the route each day. Interest heightened when the house reached the northern terminus of Fifth street and preparations began for moving it up the side of the hill (just east of where the Congregational church is located.)

A total of 72 hand-operated jacks – 36 under each side of the platform on which the house rested – then were brought into play. The house was jacked up a foot at a time, with long stringers and short six-inch by six-inch beams used to form an artificial foundation. Great care was taken to see the house remained on an even keel as it rose into the air. Levels were used and pieces of shingles used as shims.

The cribbing of wooden beams on both sides took on the appearance of giant steps as the house slowly moved up the face of the hill. With each step upward the house was moved forward a few feet to follow the natural contour of the land.

Once it had been jacked up to the height of the ridge, timber tracks were built and it was rolled off its wooden perch and placed on a prepared foundation.

It is reported that only a minimum of structural damage was caused by the moving operation. Cost of the job was never announced, but some insist it was in the neighborhood of $25,000.

Mr. and Mrs. Lamb lived in the home only three years when tragedy struck. Mr. Lamb was drowned in the Mississippi in May of 1905. Mrs. Lamb later married Ed. Young and many still refer to the residence as “the Young home.”

It was the residence of Dr. and Mrs. J. C. Burke for a number of years before its purchase in 1945 by I. H. Carnes. He in turn sold the property to the Zastrows in 1952. There are 26 rooms in the home, all of them large. At present the Zastrows occupy the lower floor while there are two apartments upstairs. A storm cellar is located in the full basement.