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Need to Move a Historic Mansion? Cut It In Half and Stick It On a Barge

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Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Aerial view of the barge carrying the former Moffitt mansion to the city of Belvedere [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

Back in 1962, the Knowles-Moffit Mansion at 1818 Broadway was slated for demolition. Designed in 1904 by architect William Knowles for renowned physician and dean of UCSF Dr. Herbert C. Moffitt, it was later remodeled and expanded by Bay Area historic starchitect Willis Polk. When a new apartment building was planned in its place, one Marin County architect saw to himself to save the historic house - a feat that involved slicing it in half and shipping it across the bay.

Exterior of the residence at 1888 Broadway before it was moved [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

Larkspur architect Norman Gilroy who bought the home in 1962 in order to keep the property from being destroyed by plans to build new apartments. He wanted to show the development-happy area during the 1960s that preserving old buildings by moving them was feasible. The huge 15-room house was sawed in half with a chainsaw, and maneuvered down the streets of San Francisco to Marina Green (with help from utility companies and city officials to temporarily move overhead wires to clear a path).

Half the Victorian Moffitt mansion on a barge awaiting high tide for start of journey to Belvedere [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

It sat at Marina Green until it was loaded onto a barge and moved across the bay to Belvedere on July 3, 1962. Once there, Gilroy used original house plans and detail drawings to restore the home to its turn-of-the-century condition. Today the house sits at swanky 8 West Shore Road, and was listed on the market back in 2009 at $5.5M.

8 West Shore Rd, Belvedere today (lots of trees obscure the house, but trust us, that's it) [Photo: Google Maps]

In its original place at 1818 Broadway? A 21-unit now-condo building constructed in 1969, with units selling recently for around $550K a pop.

1818 Broadway apartment building (now condos) constructed in 1969 [Photo: Zillow]

· Frank Howard Allen Signs Historic Belvedere Property [FHAllen]
· Moffitt Mansion: Historic Home Relocated Across San Francisco Bay [Luxury Portfolio]
· Herbert Charles Moffitt (1867-1950) [UCSF]