A few months ago, I heard an interview on NPR with the maker of a documentary film about moving a house. Well, if you describe it like that, it sounds pretty dull but the interview was anything but, so I dropped the movie into my rental queue. I just finished watching Moving Midway and was riveted through the whole thing.
Midway Plantation was a pre-civil war plantation in Raleigh, North Carolina, and all that goes with it. Six generations of the same family have lived there. The film-maker, a cousin to the current owner, tags along as preparations are made to move the house and outbuildings a few miles away from the suburban sprawl that had grown up around it.
Even before land for the plantation's new location is secured, the unexpected occurs - a blood link is verified between the white family that occupied the main house and descendents of slaves and freemen that worked the land as recently as the 1880s. The movie veers between the moving of the house to the introductions of what is now a huge extended family.
Moving Midway is a personal history lesson of the two branches of one family and by extension, the history of the civil war, reconstruction and jim crow. As I said at the top, it is riveting and a wonderful documentary.
And as a guy, I gotta say that moving a house, with or without the history lesson, is really cool.