Moving day! Workers trim trees to allow Victorian house to move through the streets of San Francisco after its owner pays $400K to transport the 5,170sqft property six blocks to make way for a new housing development
- The 5,170-square-foot house was moved from 807 Franklin St to 635 Fulton St in San Francisco on Sunday
- Hundreds of onlookers watched as the home was loaded onto giant dollies and rolled down the street
- Tim Brown, a broker who bought the home for $2.6million in 2013, has been planning the move for eight years
- He hired veteran house mover Phil Joy to execute the plan after securing more than 15 permits
- Brown plans to transform the home into seven residential units at its new location
- 807 Franklin, the home’s original location, is slated to become the site of a 48-unit apartment building
A San Francisco broker paid $400,000 to uproot his entire two-story Victorian house and move it to a new plot six blocks away in downtown San Francisco.
After 139 years at 807 Franklin Street, the charming green home with large windows and a brown front door was loaded onto giant dollies and rolled around the corner to 635 Fulton Street on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of onlookers who began lining the sidewalks at 6.15am watched in awe as the structure made its astonishing journey – at a top speed of one mile per hour.
Tim Brown, who bought the six-bedroom home dubbed the Englander house for $2.6million in 2013, has been laying plans for the move for nearly eight years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Brown is planning to renovate the home into seven individual residential units at its new location, while the original property, which sits right next to a gas station, will be turned into an apartment complex.
Veteran house mover Phil Joy told the Chronicle he had to secure permits from more than 15 city agencies to make it happen – with fees and moving charges adding up to nearly half a million dollars.
Joy, whose company has been relocating homes in Northern California for over three decades, said this move was tricky in part because the first portion of the journey involved going downhill.
‘That’s always difficult for a house,’ he said.
Along the route, parking meters were ripped up, tree limbs were trimmed and traffic signs were relocated.
The house was moved steadily along with a large truck – bearing the sign ‘heavy load’ – at the front and another at the rear.
Movers trotted alongside the truck watching to make sure the 5,170-square-foot home didn’t bump into anything.
It took about an hour for the home to arrive at 635 Fulton Street, where an existing building, which housed Bryant Mortuary funeral home for nearly 60 years, had already been moved to the eastern side of the site to make room for it.
The Victorian Italianate row house dates back to 1882, but had fallen into disrepair by the time Brown bought it seven years ago.
The home’s original site at 807 Franklin is slated to turn into a 48-unit, eight-story apartment building, the Chronicle reported.
The Chronicle estimated that some 600 people turned out to witness the move on Sunday morning.
Among them was Dan Newmark, who told the newspaper: ‘It’s like a Mardi Gras procession.’
Victoria Nady, an interior designer, also went to watch. ‘I’m obsessed with old houses and I’d always seen this house walking by. I wondered how long it would stay here. Now I know,’ she said.
The crowd tensed as the truck made a left turn onto Laguna Avenue, where workers had cut back tree branches to make room.
The home cleared the turn by mere inches, eliciting cheers and applause from the onlookers.
Members of the community praised the great lengths Brown went to to preserve the home instead of tearing it down altogether.
‘These houses are part of the fabric of San Francisco,’ Fiona McDougall, a member of the Victorian Alliance of San Francisco, told the Chronicle.
‘It’s important to preserve them rather than replacing them with a bunch of cold boxes.’
Adam Rodriguez, who watched the spectacle with his three-year-old son Arlen, told the newspaper: ‘There used to be a lot more Victorians around here.
‘Maybe the neighbourhood is going back to its architectural roots.’
Moving houses – quite literally – was relatively common in San Francisco in the early 1900s, before infrastructure brought about new challenges and made new constructions more affordable.
While the current movers used large trucks and giant dollies to transport the house, in the early 1900s the houses would be shifted with the help of two horses.
The house would be placed on greased beams and as the house moved, workers would pick up the planks and ties that were left behind and race to rebuild the track in front of the house.
A drum would be placed in the middle of the street ahead of the house and be connected to a huge cross beam on the building. The two horses would circle the drum and slowly pull the house down the street.
The last time a Victorian house like this was moved in the same neighbourhood was November 1974, when 12 houses were moved in groups of four over three weekends from what is now Opera Plaza to nearby Beiderman Place.
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