***See updates to move dates below.***
We seen-it-all SoCalers are never too surprised when we encounter something incredibly large and highly unlikely rolling down the center of a city thoroughfare.
Not after the Space Shuttle Endeavour wended its way from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center a couple of autumns back, and not after the boulder that's now part of Levitated Mass, the alfresco artwork behind the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, made its way to the mid-city from the Inland Empire in the spring of 2012.
So that two Victorian cottages will be taking to the streets around the University of Southern California over two long July overnights fits well with our local "let's move giant things around and save/display them" ethos.
"SAVED FROM THE WRECKING BALL" is the message on the West Adams Heritage Association's Facebook page. The cottages, which are described as endangered, are located at 3018 Royal Street in University Park.
"The historic houses are being relocated by the University of Southern California in order to accommodate a day care facility and will be situated and restored on a vacant lot within the University Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone," reveals the association. (Update: A day care center is now out of the works but the cottages "will be renovated to become student housing in their new location.)
Both early 20th-century abodes -- one was built in 1900, the other in 1905 -- will find a new permanent address on nearby Portland Street. Though their respective journeys will add up to just a pinch under ten blocks, including a few sure-to-be-interesting turns, each Victorian will take a full overnight to move.
The first ventures out on Tuesday, July 21 and the second on Thursday, July 23. "We are all invited to watch (and cheer).." the roll, says the West Adams history organization. (Update: Due to "some technical difficulties the NEW dates for both the moves are Wednesday, July 22 and Thursday, July 23.)
As for the start and stop times of each epic roll? Midnight is go time, 6 a.m. is the wrap-up, if all stays on schedule. And as whimsical as it is to picture large wheels being attached to the bases of the houses, that won't be the case; trailers will do the heavy lifting and driving.
If you saw Endeavour make its way through our city streets, and the boulder of Levitated Mass, too, perhaps you should add an on-wheels house to your "seen it, no bigs" resume.
But whether you turn out to watch or not, be heartened to see two historic structures given new life. In a summer that brought the news of one of Marilyn Monroe's early homes being razed, and other storied buildings lingering on the watch list, the saving of two Victorians feels like a true victory for those who treasure our shared civic memory.
For more houses that have been relocated with much effort and not a little emotion, look no further than Heritage Square, off the 110 Freeway. The charming spread of grand Victorians proves that houses can find new homes.