Norman D. Montgomery
Class of 1948

©Published on May 1, 2008

by Robert D. Davila

Norman D. Montgomery

Norman D. Montgomery Norman D. Montgomery, a Sacramento contractor who preserved history while paving the way for progress as a professional structural mover, died Tuesday of congestive heart failure, his family said. He was 82.[sic]

Mr. Montgomery was the fourth generation of his family to own and operate N.D. Montgomery Contractors Inc., established in 1875.

Founded by his great-grandfather in the Bay Area, the company used horses, cables, giant capstans and greased logs to haul structures ranging from houses to major landmarks, including portions of Kezar Stadium.

Workers also salvaged many homes and businesses damaged in the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In 1950, Mr. Montgomery branched out to Sacramento, where many central city homes and landmarks were being relocated to make way for freeway construction. The business also grew as owners raised foundations in the wake of major Northern California floods, and the company moved its headquarters to Sacramento.

Although most haulers left town by the 1970s, Mr. Montgomery led his family business as the "dean of Sacramento movers." He helped save many historic downtown Victorians from the wrecking ball, including "Mory's Place" and other vintage homes.

During summers, he hauled portable classrooms for local school districts and donated buildings to Christian Brothers and St. Francis high schools, which his children attended. In 1986, he rolled the heaviest building moved intact in Sacramento -- a 314-ton, two-story brick house -- to Stanford Home center on Winding Way.

"He loved being out there on the street," said his former daughter-in-law, Judy Montgomery. "People would be watching like it was a parade and asking questions. He was such a people person and loved talking to them."

Norman Dudley Montgomery was born in Oakland in 1929 and helped his father haul buildings as a boy.

He graduated from Oakland High School, attended the University of California, Berkeley, and served in the Army before joining the family business full time.

He married Helen Klingler and moved to Sacramento in 1954. The couple reared six children, including sons who led the business after he retired.

Mr. Montgomery was active in business and community groups. He served as president of the International Association of Structural Movers and was a board member of the House Moving Museum in Texas.

He coached in Land Park Little League, supported the Sacramento Food Bank and belonged to the Knights of Columbus, Elks Lodge No. 6 and the Brotherhood Community of Christian Brothers High School.

He was a gregarious man with a deep laugh who enjoyed telling jokes and being with family. He was proud of his company's long history and its role in moving and saving community landmarks.

"He saw his father and grandfather do it, like little boys with big toys," said his son, Stephen Montgomery. "There's so much pride, because not many people do what you do, and what you can do in an eight-hour day is phenomenal."