House Moving in 1893 Style

On March 18, 1893 one of the local news items that the Pasadena Daily Evening Star cited was:

“H.I. Stuart, of the First National bank, has bought the Swiss cottage on the corner of Orange Grove avenue and Columbia street and will remove it to the corner of Terrace drive and Howard, where he has two fine lots.”

The Stuart home at the corner of Terrace and Howard (later renamed Green) sometime after it was moved in 1893.
The Stuart home at the corner of Terrace and Howard (later renamed Green) sometime after it was moved in 1893. Some common features of the time are evident – a board sidewalk, a hedge and a small broom at the front door to remove dust from a carriage ride or walk. Currently Ralphs market is on this lot. Note: Green Street is left-to-right at the bottom of this photo.

Although the corner of Terrace Drive and Howard (now Green Street) was more than a mile away, this was not an unusual event. House-moving was a common occurrence in early Pasadena, and the Stuart home was not the first house to be moved in the immediate area. Mr. Stuart’s father-in-law, Benjamin F. Ball, built a beautiful home diagonally across the same intersection several years earlier, after he had moved the home built there only a few years before:

“The Mrs. Bartlett residence, lately purchased by B.F. Ball, is being moved from its former location on the hillside above Terrace avenue to a lot on Orange Grove avenue. The heavy structure was moved up the hillside without apparent difficulty. House moving in Pasadena has been reduced to a fine art.”  (Pasadena Daily Union, November 12, 1887).

Four days earlier, the Union reported that the nearest street was affected – “Alcott drive is obstructed by a house in the course of moving.”

In September 1886, before building his second home on the present site of the Elks Club House, Dr. Conger moved his original home down the hill to Terrace Drive.

In August 1890 the Pasadena Daily Star observed that “Another house was on wheels on Colorado street yesterday.  There are more houses moved in Pasadena than in any other town outside the eastern cyclonic belt.”

Whether or not that was true, newspapers certainly do show that many homes were moved in West Pasadena at the time.

The site of the Stuart home is now occupied by a Ralphs market. The Ball home was demolished in 1924, so that Green Street could be extended to South Orange Grove. And West Pasadena has probably had fewer homes moved recently than it was accustomed to more than a century ago, when house moving in Pasadena was “reduced to a fine art.”

- Kirk Myers

This article was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of West Pasadena Residents' Association's The News.