A tractor pulled a 121-year-old house across the street Thursday in Boyle Heights. It's to preserve the 1895 Peabody Werden House.
The East Los Angeles Community Corporation plans to develop the land that the house sat on to bring affordable housing to the area, so they uprooted the house and took it to another site they will also develop.
East L.A. Community Corporation president Isela Gracian says the decision comes after five years of community outreach and planning.
"Folks were really excited to be able to create the opportunity where more residents could enjoy and learn about the architecture, and be able to engage in the building, versus just a couple people that would be living there," Gracian said.
The Peabody Warren House is famous for its Queen Anne architecture, a dying breed of styles in L.A., Gracian said. It's named after Josiah Peabody, a journalist and business manager at the L.A. Times, and William Werden, a bookkeeper at the South Refining Company, according to Gracian. They're also working with historical preservation partners to find out more about the original owners and what happened at the house.
"They're really excited about researching some more and sharing that with us," Gracian said.
How do you move something the size of a house? Gracian said that they hired a contractor with experience in moving old homes, as well as hiring a historic preservation consultant and architect, to come up with a plan.
The steps, according to Gracian:
- They reinforced the home inside, building "a house inside a house" to make sure the home would sustain the move
- The contractor started digging, with workers digging around the home into the space below it
- They inserted hydraulic lifts under the home, then lifted it up
- Beams called "cribs" were put in
- They lift it onto a truck that serves as an oversized forklift, going into the beams
- The home is slowly moved
- A tractor is used, with workers putting planks of wood in front of the tractor to create a smooth platform across the street
- Workers check after the house after every turn, then keep going until the home is finally deposited on its new location
While they were told it would take 45 minutes, the move was completed in only 20, Gracian said.
The plan is to use the restored house like a community center, with different organizations providing programming. One use for the new building: office space for the Boyle Heights Historical Society. They also plan on meeting space, wellness classes and a community garden all set to come to their housing development at 1st and Soto streets.
"[The community has] great creativity and ideas around having programs that meet needs of the surrounding families," Gracian said.
The corporation plans to develop 50 affordable housing units on the old site, along with 66 units alongside the house on the new site. The new location is on Metro-owned land.
Gracian said that community residents are excited, proud of a project they've worked on for five years, creating an emotional, exciting morning as they witnessed the move of the house.