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Moving day is almost here for Rapid City’s oldest building.

Preliminary work will begin this week in Halley Park to prepare the “Pap” Madison cabin to be lifted from its current foundation, transported via truck and placed on a concrete pad outside its new home at The Journey Museum.

City crews will be doing some rough excavation around the cabin's foundation during the week, removing the wood chips, moving irrigation lines and tearing back the turf to give the movers room to work.

Northland Building Movers of New Underwood will be on site a week from today, with the actual move scheduled for April 18, weather dependent.

For museum officials, it's a day they have been waiting for since the Rapid City Council officially approved the move in 2008.

The cabin, which was built in 1876 at the original town site and moved to Halley Park in 1926, housed the city’s first museum for a number of years before being used more recently as a storage shed. It has been empty since about 2006.

“It can become more than something you just drive by,” said Kristi Thielen, the museum's programs and marketing director. “We're excited. We think it's a coming home at last.”

The cost of the move will be $7,500, with Northland Building Movers donating $3,000 of their fee, said Ray Summers, the museum’s executive director. The remaining $4,500 will be covered by private donations raised by the museum for the project.

Jessica Schauer, who owns Northland with her husband, Scott, said they will approach the move just like they do any other -- with extreme care. The company has experience moving all kinds of buildings, including pole barns, commercial buildings, houses and historic cabins.

“We take every precaution possible on every building to create little to no damage,” Schauer said.

Each move is a little different, too, depending on the construction of the building, she said.

“Pretty much anything can be moved,” Schauer said. “It just depends on the bracing and what needs to be done to it prior to the actual move.”

In the case of the Madison cabin, special care will be given to bracing the chimney and logs to make sure they don't separate, as well as the windows and doorway, she said.

“To move a typical building, it takes anywhere between three to four days,” Schauer said. “But with something like that, with the bracing and historical value, it may take a little longer depending on how well it comes up when we start to lift. It just depends on what we find when we start digging around.”

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The move will only be the beginning of the museum’s efforts, Summers said.

“Once we have it on the ground, we have to have it evaluated by a professional to see what actions are needed to preserve it,” Summers said. “We're not sure how to preserve it.”

The goal is to have the cabin ready for its “premiere” by June 23, the date of a fundraiser for the museum.

“The cabin is going to be much more accessible,” Summers said. “People will be able to learn the history.”

And even though much of the cabin had been rebuilt over the years, Summers said it still has a direct connection to The Journey and its own history as the city-owned museum.

“It was the museum,” Summers said. “Some of the artifacts that may have been in the museum in 1927 are still part of the collection.”

“We'll have our work cut out for us, but it will be a nice fit,” Thielen said. “It will be a nice home.”

Contact Emilie Rusch at 394-8453 or emilie.rusch@rapidcityjournal.com.

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