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How the Higgins-Verbeck House Moved Down Wilshire to Lucerne

Historic WIndsor Square
The home as it was being moved down WIlshire Blvd – with party revelers seen in the 2nd floor window.

Perhaps the most fabulous mobile home in LA’s history, the three story Higgins-Verbeck house that sits at 637 S. Lucerne Boulevard was moved several miles down Wilshire Blvd one night in July 1923,  as revelers partied inside.

An account of the home’s venture down Wilshire is recounted in the blog Wilshire Boulevard Houses, researched and written by Duncan Maginnis. Maginnis’ blog explores many of the magnificent old Wilshire homes, some that remain, and others long gone, and take readers back to the glory days of Wilshire Boulevard at the turn of the century.

2619-WilshireThe Higgins-Verbeck house was designed by John C. Austin and built in 1902 for for Chicago grain merchant Haram Higgins at 2619 WIlshire on the corner of Rampart, for $37,000.  Unfortunately, Higgins died in 1906 and after the family was beset by squabbles and tragedies ( read elopement, suicide and accidents) the home eventually was purchased by interior decorator Howard Verbeck and his opera singer wife.

With the population booming in the 1920s and Wilshire Boulevard becoming dense with traffic and businesses, many of the stately mansions, built just a few years earlier, needed to find new locations or be torn down to make way for progress. It was Verbeck who decided the house should be moved further west to the more open and spacious plots in Windsor Square.

In his research and accounting of this particular home, titled 2619 Wilshire for its original address, Maginnis reports on how a three story, 16 room stone and frame structure could possible be taken apart and put together again.

Consulting [architect] John Austin’s original blueprints and taking four months, workmen used among other tools fine keyhole saws to carve the house into pieces that would fit down the as-yet-unwidened Wilshire Boulevard and around the as-yet-unbridged Westlake (now MacArthur) Park. Carpenters included a man with personal knowledge, having been among the original team of builders in 1902.

The story of moving the mansion, sawed in several pieces but full of guests at the time it was moved, was reported  in the LA Times and re-formatted below by Maginnis. It’s difficult to imagine in today’s world that a party could be taking place inside as the home was  pulled by a “spluttering of tugging trucks” –   but it certainly makes for a good story both then, and now:

The July 1, 1923 LA Times article (reprinted) notes an inaccurate address and distance, but shares the guest list that includes the Mayor of LA and his wife.
The July 1, 1923 LA Times article (reprinted) notes an inaccurate address and distance, but shares the guest list that included the Mayor of LA and his wife.

Now on the real estate market for $6.5 million (and occasionally on the Open House tour)  the Higgins-Verbeck home is a lovely nod to the past and present of Wilshire Blvd. We’re glad it settled here in Windsor Square.

Larchmont Buzz: For Sale: Historic Wiggins-Verbeck Mansion

Higgins-Verbeck home
Higgins-Verbeck home during the move down Wilshire. Partygoers seen in windows.
Interior of the entrance hall today.
Interior of the entrance hall today.


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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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