139-year-old house rides to new San Francisco address


After 139 years at 807 Franklin St. in San Francisco, a two-story Victorian house has a new address.

The green home with large windows and a brown front door was loaded onto giant dollies and moved Sunday to a location six blocks away.

Onlookers lined the sidewalks to snap photos as the structure rolled — at a top speed of 1 mph — to 635 Fulton St.

The house’s journey has been in the planning stages for years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Veteran house mover Phil Joy told the newspaper he had to secure permits from more than 15 city agencies.

Joy said this move is tricky in part because the first part of the journey involves going downhill.

“That’s always difficult for a house,” he said.

There will be a truck in front and a truck in back, and all the brakes work just fine, Joy said, because they’d better.

“Why don’t we demo it?” he pondered aloud, the word “demolish” not slipping easily through his lips. “Look at it. It’s historic. 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.”

He gazed at the uprooted house on Friday morning as a half dozen workers prepared to slide it on four steel rails into final position for moving day.

He appreciated every little thing about it, taking a final peek at the original gas lantern fittings in the basement that is a basement no longer because the house had been propped up above it a few feet, making the basement an open-air affair.

He also took time to admire the home’s steel foundation anchor bolts which, in the middle of the 19th century, were ahead of their time.

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“This is a house is worth saving,” he said. “Besides, it’s what keeps us in business.”

After the move is complete, the site at 807 Franklin St. is set to become a 48-unit, eight-story apartment building that will not be built with gas lantern fittings.

And the traveling Victorian will be anchored into place at 635 Fulton St. next to a historic mortuary whose services the old house, all set for its second life at its new home, will not require.