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Wrigley Field Construction Update, November 7: Groundskeeper's House

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This engineering feat was completed on a brilliantly sunny Friday morning.

The Cubs are doing quite a bit of varied work in this winter’s demolition/reconstruction project, but I’d say none of it has been more interesting than the uprooting and move of the Wrigley Field groundskeeper’s house from its home since 1923 to a temporary location for restoration, before it’s replaced exactly where it was, adjacent to Gate K on Waveland Avenue.

The reason for the move is that the construction crews need to complete modifications inside Gate K while excavating a new two-story basement level for the planned office building and plaza in the lots immediately adjacent to the ballpark. The house is expected to be back in place by Opening Day 2015.

It took about two hours for work crews to move overhead utility lines so that the house, which was placed on beams and rollers, could move the half-block north in the Blue Lot, just west of Seminary Avenue. You won't be surprised to learn that the last utility crew to arrive for the move was Comcast, whose line was the farthest south. That line, adjacent to the firehouse on Waveland, was actually held up by two men in cherry-pickers, as you can see in the following videos:

I split this into three videos because after the house got about halfway across Waveland, they stopped for a couple of minutes. In all, it took about 20 minutes for the house to get from (near) its original location across Waveland and another couple of hours for it to get to its temporary resting place, surrounded by a fence, in the Blue Lot. The whole sequence was witnessed by about a dozen or so members of the media and perhaps 20 or 30 neighborhood residents.

Here's the complete story of the house's history, courtesy of Ed Hartig:

Bobby Dorr was the Cubs Grounds Superintendent from March 1919 until his death in February 1957. The house at 1053 W. Waveland Avenue was built during a major renovation of what was then called Cubs Park between the 1922-1923 seasons. Cost of the home was reported as $6,000.It was William Wrigley Jr.’s idea to build the home, offering it free of rent to Dorr and his family if the Cubs Grounds Superintendent would live at the park watching over the property in case of fire, vandals, etc.

Dorr agreed to Mr. Wrigley’s offer but requested that his wife, Elsie Dorr, design the interior of the home -- an offer Mr. Wrigley gratefully accepted.Bobby, Elsie and their young sons, Daniel and Robert, moved into the home in 1923. Bobby would live there until his passing in 1957.Dorr was considered one of the best Grounds Superintendents in baseball … to that end, Wrigley Field was often referred to a “Bobby Dorr’s House”.In June 1943, Elsie Dorr passed away in the home. By then sons Daniel and Robert were 37 and 34 respectively and were no longer living at the house. Bobby would later remarry sharing the home with his second wife, La Rayne Dorr.

In 1952, Bill Veeck moved his family into a home inside Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. At the time it was pointed out that the Veeck and Dorr families were the only two families living at a ballpark. The president of the St. Louis Browns jokingly corrected the reporter saying that while Dorr lived AT a ballpark, the Veecks were the only family living INSIDE a ballpark.

Following Dorr’s passing in 1957, longtime Cubs traveling secretary Bob Lewis moved his office to the house, which would also serve as his home. Lewis retired from the Cubs two years later but stayed on working as the home secretary while still living in the house. Lewis fully retired in 1964 and soon after moved out, and then the home served as an office for the traveling secretary and home secretary and storage for the next several years.

Late in the 1970s part of the home was converted to a wives/family room. In 1982, an expanding Cubs Marketing Department was moved to the space. With the Cubs set to host the All-Star game in 1990 and with several renovations in process that offseason, the Marketing Department was moved into the main part of the building between the 1989 and 1990 seasons to be closer to the rest of the park’s operations.A short time later the house was converted to offices for the concessionaires at the park.

The original address of the house, as noted by Ed Hartig, was 1053 W. Waveland. Since it's now temporarily resting in the Blue Lot, on the west side of Seminary Avenue, if it had an actual "address," it would be 3742 N. Seminary, as the house on the east side of the street has an address of 3743.

We have a real treat for you today. There will be two more articles here later Saturday with more photos -- one will be similar to posts made on most days, just the general work in the area, and another taken with a unique view that no one else has.