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A 139-Year-Old Victorian House Was Moved To Its New Spot In San Francisco

Margaret Tionquiao

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  • A 139-year-old Victorian mansion just literally trekked across seven blocks of San Francisco streets to its new home
  • It was a 5,170-square-foot grandeur, a storied mansion that fell into disrepair until a new owner came in 2013
  • The move itself fascinated onlookers since it has been over 50 years since a Victorian house was moved in one piece around San Francisco
  • The owner, 70-year-old Tim Brown, admitted that the move took over eight years of planning, three years of resolving logistical horrors, and tons of money

One Sunday morning, a 139-year-old Victorian Englander house, also known as the Englander house, started trekking to its new home. It was originally stationed at 807 Franklin St. During the move, the Italianate Victorian mansion literally took over five lanes of San Francisco streets as it rolled to its new home on 635 Fulton St., seven blocks away.

The historic event has sparked the interest of over 600 onlookers who “oohed and aahed” and followed as the 1880 Italianate-style house made its way through the pre-approved route to its new location. 

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Though moving houses from one location to another has been a common practice in the San Francisco area, the Englander house has been the only moving house that the people of San Francisco has seen in 50 years.

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The struggles of moving the Victorian Englander House

It was not an easy feat either. According to the San Francisco broker and the owner of the Englander House, Tim Brown, it took nearly eight years of complicated planning.  The three years after the relocation permit was released in 2018 was spent in smoothing out the logistical nightmare of physically moving the house. Routes were pre-planned and the details were kept a secret to avoid creating a spreader event. Nevertheless, people found out anyway and a following gathered, creating what looked like a parade of onlookers.

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The starting route (above) and the end of moving route (below), as approved by the government of San Francisco, in California.
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On the day of the actual move, two parking meters and three trees had to be removed along the route. Street lights were turned sideways and street traffic, whether for vehicles or pedestrians, were detoured. Brown’s originally selected mover also acquired COVID, causing delay. He also had to spend over $400,000 in permitting and city services, in addition to the “residual costs” of “shoring up the house and making sure the front porch doesn’t fall off” also cost him. 

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The story of the Englander House

The historic home was built in 1880 for Max Englander and his son Aaron, the owner of a drayage (horse-drawn hauling) company off of Battery Street. It was custom-designed by German architect Wildrich Winterhalter, a well-known designer of large brick breweries for German clients. After Max died in 1891, Aaron kept the business and the house until his death in 1920.

Grand, old, and gilded, the Italianate Victorian mansion kept the museum quality grandeur that featured in the books “A Gift to the Street” and “San Franciso: Building the Dream City” by Jim Heig. It fell into disrepair and eventually sold as a fixer-upper with storied history for $2.6 million in 2013.

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“It was an architect-designed house, no doubt,” says Ian Berke, the realtor who listed the house for sale in 2013.

“There’s all this lavish detail. Elaborate moldings, cornices, a gorgeous staircase and beautiful banisters. It’s amazingly intact, though it was in awful condition. It’s a great and important piece of architecture.”

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The original structure on 635 Fulton Street housed the Bryant Mortuary for many years. It was moved to the eastern edge to mskebroom for the Englander House.
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