Family from Fort Collins sets foundation for new life in one of Wellington's oldest houses

“It’s the biggest foundation challenge I’ve ever encountered,” said Christopher Moyer, who is working hard to renovate the house at 3814 Harrison Ave. in Wellington.

Moyer can’t say for sure, but the house built in 1895 it may be the oldest in town.

He knows from a little book in his possession with a date of 1860, that a man by the name of Miller built the house and quite regularly mortgaged it, using the money to build more houses that eventually became the Miller subdivision.

Moyer knows that at one time the place served as a boarding house for teachers who taught in rural areas surrounding Wellington. It was later owned by Russell Hatfield. He died about 15 years ago but his wife continued to live in the house until her death in 2013. Their son Randall inherited the house. He felt the house would take more work and money than he was willing to invest, so put it up for sale.

It was on and off the market for a time. When interested parties realized the poor condition of the foundation they backed away. Last summer Moyer and his wife, who live in Fort Collins, looked at the place several times. Moyer has his own remodeling company, liked the house and saw it as a challenge.

With help from his in-laws, Neal and Shirley Stipe-Zendle, who live in North Carolina, the Moyers bought the place where they plan to live with their three children.

“You could see daylight from the basement,” Moyer said. It was necessary to lift the house to repair the foundation. “Lifting and moving it was so expensive that we decided to dig a complete basement to give us more room.” Originally there was only a small, roughed-out cellar space.

Sitting as it does on a framework adjacent to its original location, and with an exterior in obvious need of renovation, the charm of the place is still evident and has drawn the interest of everyone passing by.

Because Moyer has a family to support and a business to run, the time he can spend on the house is limited. He is doing as much of the work as he can by himself. Still, he hopes to have the job completed by early summer.

“Usually you build a foundation first and then fit the house over it, but I’m having to do it backwards,” he explained. “I have to measure carefully and make sure the fit is perfect. I also have to deal with the fact that the house has shifted some over time.”

Once the house is on its new foundation, Moyer says the plumbing, electric and heating/air conditioning will be installed and the interior work can begin. By fall, his children will be enrolled in Wellington schools and the family will have a new, old house on a brand new foundation.