One dollar. For a renowned architect’s home. But there’s a catch: It has to be moved!
That’s where Nickel Brothers comes in.
Specializing in moving entire houses and other structures, the company has moved hundreds of homes since launching their business in 1956. Recently they were contacted by the owners of a mid-century modern waterfront home, designed by famed architect Paul Thiry.
Thiry had a hand in designing several of the buildings for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and he was appointed as its primary planner and architect. From his work at the time, he seemed fascinated with large edifices of concrete and steel, and this home was no exception.
The current owners of the house, who actually live next door, wanted to redevelop the property, so they hired Nickel Brothers to move the house and take it to a new location. And it’s no small task. The estimated cost of the move is $240,000.
The top floor of the massive home, built in 1962, juts dramatically over the water in a brutalist modern statement. The home is more than 70 feet long and 40 feet wide.
I contacted Tom Holst, a local modernist, architect and real estate agent with Madison House Partners Real Estate in Seattle, and asked him why this home was important.
"Paul Thiry was known as the ‘Father of Northwest modernist architecture,’ " says Holst, who has been working with the modern architecture conservation group Docomomo WEWA to try to save the home.
"Thiry met Le Corbusier in France. Le Corbusier studied ancient Greece (architecture) … he was influenced by the bas-relief sculptures that remind me of the concrete relief sculptures of the Paul Thiry house. Le Corbusier’s concrete sculptures remind me of the Y-shaped concrete posts that hold up this house, like the ones holding up the World’s Fair monorail tracks."
The home was featured on the cover of Sunset Magazine’s April 1967 issue.
Saving it will be difficult, but that’s where Nickel Brothers comes in. The home is so massive that it cannot be moved on the streets, but Jeff McCord, a Nickel Brothers manager, said the company has a plan for moving the home to a new waterfront lot via barge. …CONTINUED
And he thinks he may have a buyer. Though he couldn’t speak about the details, I was able to get more information from Chrissie Marshall, daughter of the former owner, who said that someone had bought the house: a mystery man who already owns two other Paul Thiry houses.
The man is reportedly going to buy this Thiry and tow it to a dry dock — Dagmar’s Landing in Everett, Wash. — where it will stay a year until he finds a new home for it, on either Whidbey Island or Camano Island in the Puget Sound.
When asked what would happen if this mystery buyer could not perform or backed out of the deal, house-mover Jeff McCord said it was too late to find another buyer — the historic home would be destroyed and another architectural masterpiece would vanish.
Holst adds a postscript to the story. "I see these modernist architects as unrestrained by conventional thinking and conventional religion and tradition and restriction … like Le Corbusier on his visits to Greece, the good times by this rule-breaking commune of new, brash architects.
I love the Sunset Magazine cover. I imagine the parties on the water there at the Paul Thiry house — the fire, the water, the sculptural rocks sticking out of the shore, the neo-primitivism of the Native American art-inspired bas-relief sculptures accented by the recessed lighting above, the glass, the stereo playing early roots of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis Presley himself actually appeared at the Seattle World’s Fair the same year this house was completed.
And if you know me, that’s reason enough to save this house.
Images courtesy Tom Holst, Nickel Brothers and Sunset Magazine.
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