At exactly 12:01 a.m. Thursday, July 21, 16305/07 Lincoln Lane turned left on Eden Prairie Road heading south and rolled slowly out of town.
But it isn’t the end of the road for the structure.
The Lincoln Lane neighborhood will be transformed into a four-story, 239-unit apartment complex called The Ellie, whose name refers to Elizabeth Fries Ellet, the East Coast writer credited with giving Eden Prairie its name.
The neighborhood got its start in the 1960s when Leonard “Len” Holte purchased property east of Eden Prairie Road immediately north of the historic Smith-Douglas-More House.
It was a small neighborhood, but the families that lived there included an Eden Prairie High School basketball coach, a future Eden Prairie mayor, and kids who became an Eden Prairie teacher and police officer.
Moving but not gone
Now, the former 16305/07 Lincoln Lane and three others are moving intact to new locations and sold to new homeowners.
In the case of 16305/07, Elko, Minn., is the likely final destination. For 16309, it’s Shieldsville. For another home across the street, it’s Cokato.
And it’s all because the developers of The Ellie, the City of Eden Prairie, and Otting House Movers out of Lakeville devised a plan to save four of the seven houses on Lincoln Lane from the dumpster – a $20,000 proposition for each house.
After receiving the city’s approval for the project, The Ellie’s developers purchased the homes from their former owners. That’s where the family-owned Otting company comes in.
The homes, originally destined for the dumpster, will sell for between $35,000 and $70,000, depending on the home’s quality and the difficulty of the move, Justin Otting said.
“We’re basically a recycling business,” Otting said. Officially, he is the guy that sells the houses, but who also handled a chain saw and wrangled large support timbers and jacks in the late evening and early morning of the Lincoln Lane move.
Otting is a third-generation member of the business, and he works with several other members of his family, including his uncles Paul, the company president, and Bill, who handles the bidding process.
If you can’t think of the name of another area house moving company, there’s a reason.
“There used to be 17 house movers in the Twin Cities area,” Bill Otting said. “Now we’re the only one.”
Moves are becoming less frequent in inner cities and suburbs, he said, because of tighter streets, overgrown boulevard trees and low-hanging lights.
By late Wednesday night, the Ottings had already jacked the houses off of their foundations and mounted them on large, multi-wheel coaster dollies.
Final preparations included wrapping the structures in festive strings of white light bulbs outlining their perimeters, making them visible at night.
In the eerie darkness of a moonless night, 16305/07 is reminiscent of a very large, unwieldy parade float.
Thursday morning’s move involved three large trucks and two State Patrol squad cars to block roads and intersections along the route to the home’s first stop, Silver Lake – about 8 miles east of Hutchinson – home of one of Otting’s staging areas.
The 40-mile trip was expected to take about three hours.
It was still hot and humid just after midnight along the quiet stretch of Eden Prairie Road as the first structure entered the intersection. The State Patrol cars scurried down to the nearest intersections to intercept late-night travelers.
Only a lone southbound pickup truck had to reverse course.
Within minutes, the caravan crossed Highway 212 and continued on its journey to westbound Pioneer Trail.
Somewhere in the darkness were echoes of the evening games of “Kick the Can” on Lincoln Lane and kids singing the song they made up about the place where they grew up: “We are linked together, the Lincoln Laners …”
As the lights disappeared down Eden Prairie Road, you couldn’t help but think that Lincoln Lane, in its own way, will live on.
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