Ducky Johnson House Movers didn’t have a long-distance move this time, it was just around the corner.
Two weeks ago, his crew moved the Taranto House within the next few days, part of a change to the Gibson Inn property.
“We made a conscious decision to do whatever was necessary to preserve the building as a part of the historic character of downtown Apalachicola,” Cutler Edwards, the hotel’s manager. We had great support and enthusiasm for this from folks with various connections to and memories of the home.
“Part of that was an extensive search for the right lot onto which to move the building, and we went to great lengths to find just the right spot. And of course it required lots of planning, logistical arrangements, and careful work to get it done, but we think it’s worth it,” he said.
“The house moved about three doors down 4th Street, and is situated next to the Martina house. We also got messages that Mrs. Taranto and Maggie Martina were close friends, and there is a poetic beauty to putting their two houses side by side,” Edwards wrote. “It’s a great conclusion to the move, and made us feel even better about our determination to save and restore the Taranto house.”
Edwards said now that it has been re-installed on a commercial lot near Ten Foot Hole, “we’re excited to be able to offer the home the attention it needs. It will undergo extensive renovation of the interior while preserving the original character of the home.
“And because we know many people are wondering: yes, we will be putting the porch back on. We think that after multiple moves and nearly a hundred years of faithful service, the Taranto house deserves a nice spot with a view of the water to start its next century,” he said.
The home ultimately will provide meeting space for business and community groups on the ground floor, and office space for Gibson staff in the upstairs rooms. “It would have been easy to just build a new building to use for offices and meeting space, but we feel a responsibility at the Gibson to be stewards of Apalachicola history whenever we can,” Edwards wrote. “Preserving the Taranto house is an important example of that mission in action. We’re looking forward to sharing more information and pictures of the renovations underway there, in the Gibson itself, and in the Buck House (Hays House) in the months to come.”
Historian Mark Curenton said the 19th century home originally the house was located on Block B2, where the courthouse currently stands. (See map). It appears from the tax records that the house was originally built in the 1880s.
Curenton said when Franklin County acquired Block B2 to build the courthouse it had to do something with all the houses on the property, so they were moved to various sites around town.
Madeline Taranto, Dolores Roux’s mother, was looking for a larger house at this time to house her growing family. One of the county commissioners persuaded her to buy this two-story house with the promise that the county would move it for her, Curenton said.
In 1938 it was moved to the lot at the corner of 4th Street and Avenue C. The existing Taranto house on that lot was moved to the back of the lot and used as a rental house before being moved in 2003 to Block 3.
The 1940 Sanborn map shows both houses on the lots just south of the Fuller Hotel. Steve Watkins’s office is another house that was moved before the courthouse was built.
“One of the best parts of the process was the information we received from folks watching the move, which we broadcast live on the Gibson Inn’s Facebook page. We heard from members of the Taranto family thanking us for taking care of their grandparents’ home, and several people commented that the new location will really highlight the house and show it off a little better,” Edwards said.