Victorian House Moves Through San Francisco in Surreal Video

A 139-year-old home was pulled through the streets of San Francisco on Sunday, moving six blocks from Franklin Street to Fulton Street. The journey, which took six hours and required permits from more than 15 city agencies, cost $400,000.

The Victorian home's owner, San Francisco broker Tim Brown, paid around $200,000 for the move itself, plus around $200,000 in fees, to transport the building, known as the Englander House, from 807 Franklin St to 635 Fulton St.

To make way for the home, trees had been trimmed and traffic signs were relocated. Drivers were told not to park on the streets along the route or else their cars would be towed.

Nothing to see here, just a historic San Francisco Victorian home coming down the street! Today it’s being moved 6 blocks for more than $400,000. It’s old location near Turk and Franklin will soon be home to more than 60 apartments. @abc7newsbayarea
Courtesy: Lehoa Nguyen

— J.R. Stone (@jrstonelive) February 21, 2021

The move began early on Sunday and crowds gathered to watch the house roll down the streets at around one mile per hour. A video of the move has been viewed more than 140,000 times on Twitter at the time of writing.

The house will be moved next to and combined with an old mortuary, which will be turned into 17 apartments. On the house's original spot, a 48-unit apartment complex will be built. A portion of the apartment complex will be affordable housing and 64 percent will have two or three bedrooms.

Phil Joy, who moved the house, told the San Francisco Chronicle why they moved the house instead of tearing it down.

"Why don't we demo it? Look at it. It's historic," Joy said. "Original lumber. You cannot get lumber like that anymore. Tight grain from 800-year-old trees. No knots. It's a beautiful thing. Move a house, save a tree."

While an unlikely sight, moving homes from one location to another in San Francisco used to be common in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.

The Chronicle reported that moving mansions used to be fairly common as the city was constantly revising its sidewalks, streets, and gridlines. As San Francisco's redwood houses were light, they were easier to move than brick houses.

The houses would be placed on greased beams and pulled along using a horse-powered pulley system. Moving houses even became a big business, with around 20 companies offering the service |in a 1900 business directory.

Nowadays, moving buildings across cities is far less common—the Englander House's move this weekend was the first time a house had been moved in the city of San Francisco itself for 47 years.

However, in 2019, the Lathrop House in the Bay Area's Redwood City was moved just across the street to make way for a new office building in 2019. This was the third time that the Lathrop House had been moved since it was built in the 1860s.

Victorian Home San Francisco.
Three Victorian homes in a row on a steep hill on Fillmore Street in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco, California, August 28, 2016. A Victorian home was rolled through the streets of San Francisco on Sunday, as it made the journey to its new location six blocks away. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty