After majestically towering over Savidge Street for nearly 150 years, what has been known as the Lilley House has found a new home.
Thousands of spectators lined both sides of Spring Lake’s Savidge Street on Tuesday evening to watch the 140,000-pound Victorian structure slowly make its way to its new location at the northwest corner of Exchange and Division streets, where it will be opened next spring as a bed and breakfast.
Miami couple Robert Lopez and Patrick Roggenbau, who will run the Lilley Mansion Bed and Breakfast, watched nervously as the home moved off the curb and onto Savidge Street. The crowd cheered.
“We’re a bundle of nerves right now,” Lopez said. “Every creak is painful.”
The two said they were amazed by the support.
“It’s like a parade,” Lopez said. “It’s unbelievable.”
The men high-fived each other as the house slowly rolled down the street.
“It’s a moving experience,” Roggenbau said. “So many people have been telling us stories about the house.”
Spring Lake Township resident Joyce Bocek said she came down to watch the move because it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Crowds began gathering a couple of hours before the move, some setting up lawn chairs.
Developer Kim VanKampen, who is heading up the $8 million Epicurean Village project immediately west of the Village Hall, purchased the Victorian home earlier this year. She also purchased two homes at the northwest corner of Exchange and Division streets, then razed them to make way for the Lilley House.
VanKampen said she couldn’t believe Tuesday’s turnout.
“I’m shocked but so grateful for all the support,” she said.
Deitz House Moving Engineers facilitated the move, with utility company crews moving wires as the home made its way down the street at about 1 mph, pulled by a semi-truck sporting a 318-horsepower Detroit diesel engine with 40 manual gear options.
Francis E. Lilley, who built the home in 1876, once operated a lumber mill that stood on what is now Mill Point Park. The house is now a stone’s throw from the park, and next to another historic home at 107 S. Division St. called the Isabel House.
The home will also be near the former Bilz Pool and Spa building, which VanKampen purchased with plans to turn it into a unique antique store called Windermere House.
VanKampen also purchased the former Citgo gas station building at 411 W. Savidge St. That will be home to Brooklyn Bagels, scheduled to open in October.
The Epicurean Village – with residential, retail, restaurant and office space – is scheduled to open in 2020.