Video: A 95-Year-Old Bungalow Gets Moved From Hollywood To Los Feliz In The Middle Of The Night

In 2015, Andrew Raitt and his wife Christine were living in their dream house—a 95-year-old Hollywood bungalow that they'd lovingly restored—when real estate developers starting knocking on their door. The developers, who were looking to build an apartment complex, had purchased the two homes next door and were dead-set on getting the Raitts to sell. At first, Andrew and Christine were uninterested. They had a new baby. They loved their place. The 1,400-square-foot bungalow was home.

But, as Andrew said, "[the developer] just kept bugging us and bugging us and bugging us." They weren't particularly interested in selling, until the persistent developer came back with an offer that "would make a lot of sense for us, you know, change our life," as Andrew put it. Still, the Raitts "were just so emotionally attached to the house."

Finally, Andrew said, they told the developer they would sell under one condition: if they could keep the house.

"They were like sure, good luck, buddy!" Andrew recounted with a hearty laugh, explaining that the developer didn't think it would be possible for the Raitts to transport the house. Well, think again. It took, according to Andrew, a year of work and research to figure everything out and get the logistics in place, but just after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning Casa Raitt took to the streets at long last, traveling the relatively short distance from Hollywood to their new lot in Los Feliz in a little under two hours.

Resized_20160607_231200.jpeg
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Raitt)

As wild as it may sound, an entire house being moved down the street was once a not uncommon sight in the city. According to Los Angeles Magazine, although it is "seldom done in modern-day Los Angeles," homes were "relocated with surprising frequency in the area from the late-19th century until just after World War II."

As Los Angeles Magazine explained:

Most moves were a matter of pure economics, with the cost of putting a structure on wheels and dragging it to a different lot usually less than buying or building anew. On occasion the motive was the preservation of beauty. In 1923, silent-screen star Norman Kerry rescued the former Earle C. Anthony residence from the threat of demolition, wheeling it at considerable expense from Wilshire Boulevard all the way to Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills.

The L.A. Times reports that transporting homes was once so common in Southern California
that the "the city of Monrovia alone had two companies that took care of the city's many 'mobile' homes."

In the intervening century, house moving has become increasingly rare in Southern California, and Andrew reports that the city told him that less than five homes had been moved here during the past five years.

"It's a dying industry," Ted Hollinger, who has been in the house-moving profession for more than five decades, told the Times. "The cost of government. The cost of raw land. The rules and regulations."

The bureaucracy alone can be prohibitive, as the Times explained in their 2001 article:

Permitting procedures, notoriously complicated, costly and time-consuming, can be daunting to homeowners and moving companies. In Los Angeles, pieces of the permit puzzle include checking the plans, making arrangements for street use, complying with building and safety codes and checking with the cable companies and utility companies.
housemove1.jpg
The house arrives in Los Feliz (Courtesy of Andrew Raitt)
The Raitt's house, which travelled eastbound on Sunset Boulevard from Gordon Street, before going northbound on Vermont Avenue and ending at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue in Los Feliz, the family's "dream neighborhood," was relocated in the wee hours by a company called American Heavy Moving & Rigging. The 1921 bungalow arrived at its new address around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"It's very tricky moving an old house; you have to consider turning width, utility lines, underpasses, and L.A. traffic," a representative from the company said.

Andrew said that the total price tag, including not just the transportation, but also the foundation cost, new plumbing, and electrical and site work, was just under $100,000. He said the move actually ended up making a lot of sense, cost-wise, since it would have been far more expensive to construct a new home. But, he said, "it’s really about being able to preserve memories, and having this place for my daughter to grow up in, and my future child. My wife’s pregnant right now."

"It's pretty euphoric," Andrew said on the phone this morning.