Historic house in St. Augustine moved instead of demolished

The City and a property owner agreed to move a historic house to a different location instead of destroy it.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Some consider it an interesting solution to a debate in St. Augustine.

A property owner wanted to knock a house down. The city wouldn't let him because it's historic. So, the house is being moved this week.

"It's not everyday you get to see a house moved," Reuben Franklin noted as he walked by the house on Granada Street. He was one of many people who stopped to watch the process for a few minutes.

It's happening right next to City Hall. 

It's a slow process, inch by inch so First Coast News had to speed up the video to show that it really is moving.

"Push a little bit," Larry LaRue, who is a house mover, described. "Measure and check. We have to make sure we're not getting ahead of ourselves."

When he moves houses, there is an instant audience!  People stopped walking and watched. Some even took pictures.

"Oh, you don't pay them no mind," he said. "We just go do what we gotta do!"

The 90-ton house is not moving very far. It's just moving from one lot to the next lot over.

"It's probably 75 to 100 feet," he said.

The owner actually wanted to knock the house down and put townhouses where it stood. The city told him he couldn't because the house is historic. So, the two sides struck a deal and the owner decided to move the house.

The owner, John Arbizanni told First Coast News the house dates to 1899.  He plans turn the soon-to be empty lot into a parking lot and then townhomes eventually.  He also intends to turn the violet house with gingerbread trim into a coffee shop.

There's little room for error when moving it.

"It has to line up on an existing foundation there, so it has to be within in a quarter of an inch," LaRue noted.

Some people think all this is silly.

Eugene visiting from Dunedin said, "It's ridiculous to move it from there to there."

Mostly, people see it as a win-win for the city and the property owner.

"It's been saved, which is the important thing," Melinda Rakoncay said.

"Historic preservation! Finding a balance with the city, and we'll have some more parking in the future," Franklin smiled.


 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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