A waterfront yard on East Island was filled Friday with curious residents, news crews, civic leaders and a slew of skilled workers as they brought a classic piece of architecture safely to rest after a 95-mile sea voyage that was the only way to save it from destruction.
Known as the Lieb House, the 1967 beach home was designed by the architect Robert Venturi. It is considered an important piece of architecture as well as a work of art.
The house was built on the Jersey shore but recently it came out that it was set for demolition by developers. Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin of Glen Cove arranged to save the house. With permission from the city and other authorities along the route, they decided to transport it all the way to their waterfront property by barge.
Fans of Mr. Venturi's work, the couple originally planned for him to design them a house in the Hamptons. But once they got word that the Lieb House was in danger, they ended up purchasing the treasured piece for just $1.
The real expense for the building, which they will use as a guesthouse, lay in transporting it to Glen Cove. This was rumored to cost in the low six figures. It was no small feat, but water was the only way to move the house so great a distance. Experts said that its size made transportation by land impossible and the couple did not want to take the historical work apart. So, a sea voyage was the one option for moving the Lieb House almost 100 miles to Long Island intact.
It was a tense and exciting morning as many people were gathered to witness or assist in the culmination of this voyage to East Island. The crew set up a steel ramp on the shore. There were motorized wheels to slide the house from its barge onto the land. Fortune smiled on the work, with a sunny, fairly calm day. The tide was, however, against the boats and made the voyage drawn out, almost 18 hours, they said.
As onlookers searched the water in front of the New York skyline, and eventually the tugboat and barge came into view, all would agree it was quite a sight. When they made it to shore, all present waited tensely as the crew finally set up cables and machines and carefully went to work. Onlookers held their breath as the plan eventually went into motion and the house began its final, most short and dangerous part of the trip. More than one person gravely joked that it was Friday the 13th, after all.
But, in the end everything worked out perfectly and it was quite an experience to witness the whole event. The architecture community has expressed relief that the important piece is now preserved. It will likely be a popular stop as the weather warms and locals trade places with the Lieb House, slowing to view it from their boats, as it sits safely on its new plot of land.