I was driving around my neighborhood recently and discovered this creepy looking house that the city is getting ready to move across town. Still not exactly sure why (seems demolishing it would be better), but it got me thinking: what other big structures have been moved and why? Here are five that have interesting histories.

1. Belle Tout Lighthouse


Built in the early 1800s and located in Beachy Head, East Sussex, the Belle Tout Lighthouse was moved 56 feet in 1999 as a retreating coastline threatened its existence. The 850-ton landmark was moved using hydraulic jacks that pushed the lighthouse along four beams that were lubricated with grease.

Lighthouse fun fact: Early lighthouses like these that were built before electricity, relied on oil lamps to guide the ships. The Belle Tout Lighthouse had so many lamps, it went through 2 gallons of oil every hour.

2. Empire Theater

The revitalization of Time Square and 42nd Street in New York City during the 1990s (some called it the Disneyfication) was in full swing when the 7.4 million pound Empire Theater was rolled down the block to its current home. Traveling less than a foot per minute along eight rails (sort of like a train, if you can picture that), the theater was successfully moved 168 feet over the course of four hours. The 86-year-old former burlesque house was moved to clear the way for a 25-screen movie theater, the biggest in the country at the time.

Speaking of big:
the Empire is considered the biggest structure ever moved in New York City.

3. Brown University's Peter Green House

greenhouseA few years ago at Brown University, a 300-ton house built in 1868 was moved 450 feet to make way for a series of linked green spaces and walkways. The house, which is used by the department of history, was moved over a 3-day period and also rotated 90 degrees in the process.

How now Brown cow?
In its nearly 250-year history, Brown has relocated 26 buildings around campus!

4. Abu Simbel


Pharaoh Ramesses II had these magnificent temples built in the 13th century BC to commemorate an alleged victory in battle. But more than three thousand years later, in 1964, they had to be cut into pieces and moved 65 meters up to higher ground to avoid flooding from construction of a nearby dam along the banks of the Nile River.

Let my temple go, already
: It took 4 years to dismember the temples, number the pieces, and then reconstruct everything up at the new site.

5. Floating Church of the Redeemer

floatingBuilt in Bordentown, NJ in 1847, the Floating Church of the Redeemer was towed along the Delaware some 40 miles to the Dock Street wharf in Philadelphia. When they lost their lease a few years later, the church floated back across the river to Camden, NJ, where it was rolled on wooden columns to a nearby lot.

A not-so-merry Christmas: Several years after it dropped anchor in Camden, the church was destroyed by fire on Christmas morning.