It was like the proverbial last-minute call from the governor to the warden in a 1930s movie.
The persistent efforts of one young couple, the quick action of Fairfax County officials and the expertise of a house mover all came together at the final hour to rescue a 62-year-old house.
The small white house that sat for almost 60 years at 6867 Elm St. in McLean was literally given a new lease on life when it was moved to a new address on Elm last weekend.
This was no small feat, since the new address on the other side of the four lanes of busy Rte 123. "It took a great deal of time and effort on everyone's part to accomplish this," said Chuck Kimzey, who with his wife Lorene, are the new owners of the house.
Until recently, the house was slated to be leveled to make room for an office buidling. But three weeks before it was to be razed then-owner Matthew Vlissides agreed to sell the house, and county officials and the state highway department quickly approved the zoning changes and moving permits needed to move the house to its new address.
The Kimzeys started their campaign to save the house in May, when Chuck Kimzey first saw the house and became impressed with the old-fashioned quality of workmanship.
"My wife and I are restoration-oriented," said Kimzey, an employe of the National Bureau of Standards. "It just seemed such a shame to lose it in the name of progress."
"It seemed so lost up there, wedged in between all those office buildings," sighed Lorene Kimzey, a nurse, as the house was lowered onto its new foundation last weekend. "Now it looks at home here. You know, I think it seems to sense that it's back in a family neighborhood."
The house was built in 1922 by Earl D. Sanders. It features solid oak inlaid floors, large front and back porches, sliding doors to the parlour -- and even boasts indoor plumbing dating to the 1920s.
Dorothy Sanders Morales stood a little back from the crowd that watched the house being carried across the highway on a huge flatbed truck by house mover Bill Patram. Morales was born in one of the big front bedrooms upstairs.
"I'm so glad to see it being saved," she said. "My husband and I had hoped to move it ourselves, but could not find property close enough to put it on.
"I remember when we had chickens in the back yard and a cow. We sold milk for 10 cents a quart. We had so many happy memories of the house." She added, a bit tearfully, "It's good to know that another family will have a chance to store up memories there, too."
Morales has the house's original from door with its huge edged-glass oval as the front door of her current home on Balls Hill Drive in McLean.
Chuck Kimzey declined to say how much it costs to move the house, but observed it was "expensive, but it's all been worth it."
"McLean seems to be changing so rapidly," he said. "It just seemed important to keep something as a reminder of a life our children will never know."