San Francisco Chronicle

Vic­to­rian house takes jour­ney down S.F. streets

Hun­dreds gather to watch re­lo­ca­tion of his­toric house

- By Sam Whit­ing Golden Gate University · Hayward · Tim Brown

After 139 years on Franklin Street, it’s rolled to new digs a few blocks away to clear spot for apart­ments.

Early on Sun­day morn­ing, a two­story Vic­to­rian house lurched out across five lanes of San Francisco’s Franklin Street and got snagged by a ban­ner on a light pole.

There were as many as 600 on­look­ers out there, cell phones raised. It was like a golf gallery with “oohs” and “aahs” ac­com­pa­ny­ing ev­ery mo­ment of peril.

After 139 years at 807 Franklin St., the house was mak­ing its move down the street and around the cor­ner to a new home on Ful­ton Street. Ac­cord­ing to the San Francisco His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety it was the first time a Vic­to­rian had moved in 50 years, and no­body wanted to miss it.

“It’s the most ex­cite­ment I’ve had in 10 years. What if it top­ples?” said Camilla Blomqvist. As to ris­ing at 6:15 a.m. so she could make it in time for the his­toric mo­ment, she shrugged: “What else do you do in these pan­demic times?”

Teresa and Dan New­mark and

their 7­year­old daugh­ter Madeleine left their Di­a­mond Heights home at 6:40 a.m. and were in place when the ac­tion started at 7:17 a.m., Madeleine perched on her dad’s shoul­ders to watch.

Sud­denly, the ground at 807 Franklin St. was ex­posed after 139 years be­neath the house. “There she rolls,” said a crew mem­ber as he shov­eled dirt off the side­walk.

After a per­ilous few min­utes

while the crew un­tan­gled the cor­ner of the house from the light pole, the long two­story house nar­rowly made the turn and headed down Franklin, the grow­ing crowd fol­low­ing be­hind. A tree trim­ming crew led the way, clear­ing branches for the wood chip­per fol­low­ing be­hind the back door of the house.

“It’s like a Mardi Gras pro­ces­sion,”

said Dan New­mark.

“It’s a one­in­a­life­time type thing,” said Teresa, a San Francisco na­tive.

“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,” said Vic­to­ria Nady, an in­te­rior de­signer.

The pa­rade slowed in front of Opera Plaza as the load strug­gled to make the hard right onto Golden Gate Av­enue, up against some trees, with the crowd cheer­ing as it cleared a few branches by inches. Crew mem­bers cut off other branches so that the Vic­to­rian could squeeze by, but it barely fit be­tween Opera Plaza and the eight­story Mary Ellen Rogers Se­nior Com­mu­nity. The crowd was in front of the Vic­to­rian as it fi­nally headed west.

The pro­ces­sion took an hour to move three blocks on Golden Gate. Adult soccer play­ers at Martha S. Hay­ward Play­ground barely no­ticed as it rolled past. A round of ap­plause went up when it cleared a left turn onto La­guna by inches, and only after the metal street sign was re­moved.

“These houses are part of the fab­ric of San Francisco,” said Fiona McDougall, a mem­ber of the Vic­to­rian Al­liance of San Francisco. “It’s im­por­tant to pre­serve them rather than re­plac­ing them with a bunch of cold boxes.”

Tim Brown, a San Francisco bro­ker and the owner of the Vic­to­rian, paid about $400,000 in fees and mov­ing charges.. The site at 807 Franklin St. is to be­come a 48­unit, eight­story apart­ment build­ing, while the trans­ported Vic­to­rian will be an­chored at 635 Ful­ton St. and con­verted to seven res­i­den­tial units.

“I passed it for years say­ing some­body should do some­thing about it. It shouldn’t live next to a gas sta­tion,” said Blomqvist, ap­plaud­ing the Vic­to­rian’s move.

The amount of time it took for the big house to reach its fi­nal right turn onto Ful­ton seemed long enough for the toy di­nosaurs toted by 3­year

old Arlen Ro­driguez and set up on the side­walk to go ex­tinct again. Fi­nally, it was backed onto a new foun­da­tion in the mid­dle of a row of lowslung stucco pub­lic hous­ing units and next to a his­toric

former mor­tu­ary that had been slid over 14 feet to make way for its new neigh­bor,

“There used to be a lot more Vic­to­ri­ans around here,” said Arlen’s dad, Adam Ro­driguez. “Maybe the neigh­bor­hood is

go­ing back to its ar­chi­tec­tural roots.”

 ??  ??
 ?? Pho­tos by Car­los Avila Gon­za­lez / The Chron­i­cle ?? The two­story Vic­to­rian Eng­lan­der house reaches its new spot on Ful­ton Street in San Francisco.
Pho­tos by Car­los Avila Gon­za­lez / The Chron­i­cle The two­story Vic­to­rian Eng­lan­der house reaches its new spot on Ful­ton Street in San Francisco.
 ??  ?? Neigh­bors take pho­tos as the Vic­to­rian house, built in 1882, passes their bal­cony as it is moved from its orig­i­nal site on Franklin Street.
Neigh­bors take pho­tos as the Vic­to­rian house, built in 1882, passes their bal­cony as it is moved from its orig­i­nal site on Franklin Street.
 ?? Stephen Lam / The Chron­i­cle ?? A crowd fol­lows a Vic­to­rian home as it pa­rades the wrong way down the street to its new home at a top speed of 1 mph. It was the first time such a home was re­lo­cated in S.F. in 50 years.
Stephen Lam / The Chron­i­cle A crowd fol­lows a Vic­to­rian home as it pa­rades the wrong way down the street to its new home at a top speed of 1 mph. It was the first time such a home was re­lo­cated in S.F. in 50 years.

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