When Watsonville was growing beyond its early existence as a small town, downtown space was at a premium, for building the new commercial and industrial edifices that reflected the town’s growth. To make room for that growth, there were many houses, built on those central streets, that ended up being either demolished or relocated. Luckily, moving entire houses was much more common– and often much more cost-effective – in the past. The quality of materials, design details, and family history in older houses meant that they were worth wrestling to another location. Additionally, planning the move route was easier when city environments were less developed, with fewer wires and less traffic to contend with.

Some of the notable relocations:

The Mansion House on Main Street, formerly on the corner of Watsonville Square, was moved a few hundred feet in 1914, to make room for the new, and much larger, Lettunich Building.

The Rodgers house was moved from East Lake Avenue to the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds in 1998, where it is now a museum. Interesting factoid: John Steinbeck’s sister Esther married into the Rodgers family, and lived in the house for many years, where her brother John was a frequent visitor.

A house formerly on East Lake Avenue was moved to Pajaro in 1955, to serve as a parish house for the Church of the Assumption. You can see the house moving down Main Street Watsonville in the accompanying photo.

The old Thurwatcher house was moved from central Watsonville to Manresa where it was refurbished and turned into a boutique hotel, first the Inn at Manresa Beach, and most recently the Flora Vista Inn.

The James Ingham house, designed by William Weeks, was moved from Main Street in 1925 to 22 High Street.

The Martinelli house on East Beach was moved to Beck Street.

Local historian Betty Lewis frequently wrote articles for the Register Pajaronian about this topic, as it was as interesting to past citizens as it is to us today. As Ms. Lewis mentions in one of those articles, when you see an older house in a neighborhood of newer houses, that is usually a sure sign that the older house was moved there from somewhere else!