When visiting the Buchanan House Winery for the first time, many guests are struck by the eye-catching mansion cresting over the rolling hills to greet them. While the house looks like it has been a cornerstone of the countryside for decades, the sturdiness of its bricks belies a sometimes shaky history.
Built in 1883, The Buchanan House was owned by the eponymous Alexander Buchanan, a wealthy farmer of the area. He lived there with his wife Sarah and their five children until his death in 1918. He passed the torch to his son, Alex Jr., who also raised his six children in the house.
Unfortunately for the Buchanans, The Great Depression would come and sweep it all away. The bank took over the property, and during this tumultuous time the fallen farm saw several short-term renters. Then in 1938 Clarence Miller purchased the property, determined to restore the house to its former glory. He proved to be an excellent custodian, replacing all the flooring on the second story with oak, as well as removing the damaged slate roof and installing asphalt shingles. It seemed from this and future curation that The Buchanan House was destined to enjoy a calm retirement. However, a storm still lingered on the horizon.
By the time Flossie Miller passed in 1998, The Buchanan House had garnered the honor of being the oldest continually-occupied home in Cedar County. With such a long history, the mansion needed more and more work to bring it up to modern standards. This culminated in 2008, when the then owner of the house was alarmed to receive a utility bill coming in at over $2000. Not wanting to move but unable to stay, the owner decided that the only solution was to tear the house down and rebuild something more cost-efficient in its place.
Luckily fate had other plans. The Weaver family approached the owner, offering to buy the house off their hands. Then the Weavers suggested something surprising: they would transport the house to a new location. The Buchanan House weighed in at 480 tonnes, which would make it the heaviest residential building transport in history. In addition, the move would travel over 7 miles of highway and bumpy gravel road.
In 2009, during a period of summer storms, the Weavers moved the house. It made the journey in less than two days, arriving mostly unscathed, bar a few cracks near the base of the structure. Given the terrain, weight of the building, and distance traveled, the Weavers considered this a minor miracle.
Since then the house has had several improvements, such as extensive insulation overhauls and instillation of period appliances and furniture. Currently it is in the process of renovation, with guided tours planned for the near future.
In the house’s 135 year history, it has experienced much change and occasional turmoil. Now as the head of our fledgling winery, we hope that the Buchanan House’s legacy inspires and shapes our wines for decades to come.