Most buildings aren’t exactly made to be mobile, but sometimes there just isn’t any way around it. The building may be in a flood zone or it may impede progress because it
10. Agecroft Hall
The Agecroft Hall may be small compared to other items on this list, but it definitely earns ranking thanks to its mighty move across an ocean. The Elizabethan Tudor-style mansion, one of the heaviest buildings ever moved, was relocated from Lancashire, England, to Richmond, Va., in the late 1920s. It had to be moved pieces at a time. It’s estimated the building weighed about 180 tons.
9. Brown University Green Peter Green House
This 300-ton building had to be moved to make space for ‘greenspace’ such as parks and walkways for Brown University students. This historic 1868 building is literally historic because it was the main building for the department of history. Once uprooted the building was spun 90 degrees and moved a couple of feet.
8. Belle Tout Lighthouse
Perched on top of a 300-foot cliff, the 850-ton Belle Tout lighthouse in East Sussex, England, had to be moved in 1999 because of erosion. The decommissioned lighthouse, which had been seen in movies and TV shows was operational from 1834 to 1903 when a new lighthouse was built.
7. Fairmount Hotel
San Antonio, Texas residents were eager to hear that a major retail center and a hotel was to be built in 1984. There was a catch, however. The historic Fairmount Hotel opened in 1906, was in its way. The three-story Victorian-style hotel weighing 1,600 tons would be moved to another site next to the La Villita National Historic District.
It cost about $1 million to move it five blocks in 1985. At the time it had been the largest structure moved on wheels. The hotel, one of the largest buildings ever moved, made its move on 36 dollies with pneumatic tires as a crane pulled it forward 15 feet at a time.
6. The Gem Theater
A theater once stood where the Detroit Lion’s Ford Field is now located. International Chimney Corp. led the job as movers relocated the 2,700-ton Gem Theater about 1,850 feet away.
It wasn’t an easy move. The Century Club, another building, was permanently attached to the Gem Theater and also had to be moved. Steel framing had to be put around the Century Club so that both buildings could be moved safely on 71 dollies. A three-zone hydraulic system kept the building level.
5. The Shubert Theater
Stubbs Building Movers, Expert House Movers and International Chimney Corporation faced sub-zero temperatures as well as the massive size of the historic Shubert Theatre in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1999. The 2,908-ton building moved a quarter of a mile to save it from demolition and make room for a new entertainment center, is the heaviest building ever moved on rubber tires. More than 100 hydraulic jacks needed to be wedged under about 50 large steel beams to lift it off its foundation. Five bulldozers took 12 days to move it.
The theater, opened in 1910, is the oldest existing theater in Minneapolis. It had once been a vaudeville stage at which both the Marx Brothers and Mae West performed. It had also been a movie theater, a burlesque theater, and an evangelistic auditorium. Now restored, it houses a performing arts theater and classrooms.
4. The Hotel Montgomery
The Hotel Montgomery in downtown San Jose, Calif., had to move to preserve it and make room for an expansion of the more upscale Fairmont San Jose Hotel. The 4,816-ton building was moved 182 feet down the street at a cost of $3 million. The building, on the California Register of Historical Places, is now rebranded as the Four Points by Sheraton San Jose Downtown.
3. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Erosion threatened the Cape Hatteras Light Station, a historic structure in North Carolina. Its seven structures were moved 2,900 feet in 1999 from where it had been built in 1870. The 4,830-ton lighthouse had perched 120 feet from the Atlantic Ocean before it was moved, and ways to protect it from the advance of the ocean upon the land were running out as the coastline had eroded 1,380 feet since the lighthouse was built. The move was especially tricky as the lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the country and one of the largest buildings ever moved, had no internal structural supports to keep it together during the move. Each five feet took hydraulic rams 45 seconds while the total move took 23 days.
2. Newark International Airport Building 51
Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh were two of the pilots that had traveled through this Newark, N.J. building. It had once been the country’s busiest airport until LaGuardia opened in 1939. Eventually outdated and no longer used as a terminal after 1953, it became office space and stood in the way of a runway expansion.
This historic 7,400-ton building wasn’t to be lost, though moving it required splitting it into three pieces. Movers first moved two 1,200-ton wings then the 5,000-ton central portion. Rubber-wheeled dollies were placed underneath it. Once one of the country’s first airport passenger terminals, it now houses the Port Authority Police, administrative offices, a garage for emergency vehicles, and a museum that showcases exhibits about the Newark International Airport.
1. Fu Gang Building
The heaviest buildings ever moved, the 15,140-ton Fu Gang Building in China’s Guangxi Province is the heaviest building moved intact in the world. It took 11 days to move it 118 feet in 2004. The building, designed by British architect George Wilson and opened in 1935, had once been the warehouse of the Zhengguanghe soda factory.