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Hollywood House-Moving Party

Forget a housewarming party—Alice Blackburn threw a house-moving party as she relocated her Hollywood bungalow from the freeway’s path to Los Feliz in 1948.

House-moving party
(LIFE magazine)

When the single mother’s rented home at 707 Mariposa Avenue was condemned by the City, she purchased it at auction for $2,800 (approximately $35,000 in 2023, with inflation) as well as a 9,500-square-foot empty lot on Saint George Street.

But before she would relocate the Craftsman, the enterprising woman decided to go out with a bang—and LIFE magazine went along for the raucous ride.

As the two-story home rolled three miles from Mariposa (north of Melrose) to Saint George, Blackburn and 150 revelers danced and drank inside by candlelight. But first, they each had to sign a waiver promising not to sue in “the event of disaster.”

Among the party-goers was professional dancer Margaret Shapitric, who performed the hula barefoot for the crowd... which drew mixed reactions judging by this photo.

hula dancer Margaret Shapitric
Margaret Shapitric (LAPL)

Along the way to 2919 Saint George, intrusive power lines were snipped and spliced. A crane truck led the transport, removing any parked cars in their path.

To ensure the home could squeeze down the narrow Los Angeles streets, its porches and roof had been detached, leaving only a skeleton of the 1910 bungalow. Shrubs and flowers were also pulled up at 707 Mariposa. However, the night before the move thieves made off with the landscaping. Worse yet, when movers returned to the empty lot the following morning for the roof, it too had vanished overnight.

707 Mariposa
Before the move from Mariposa (LAPL)

After tallying up these unexpected incidentals, the total cost of the home’s relocation ballooned to $17,000.

“The view is nicer here,” Blackburn told Life magazine of her new address at 2919 Saint George Street. “And anyway it was a very nice party.” Before the magazine even hit newsstands, her story had already grabbed national headlines, from as far away as Vermont.

Arizona Republic 1948
The Arizona Republic / July 9, 1948

The following year, the Los Angeles Times paid a visit to the new Blackburn residence for an update titled, “Alice Moves Her Mansion.” Looking back on the experience, there were times Blackburn “wondered if she owned a house or if a house owned her,” wrote Maxine Bartlett. “Now, as she looks about her restful and attractive home, however, only pleasant memories remain—even the bittersweet experiences have taken on a tinge of humor.”

Neighbors expressed concern about the ramshackle home that had been hoisted on its new lot. They estimated it could take years to restore, yet within 10 months, it was once again “serene and attractive” thanks to Blackburn’s friends who pitched in to help.

2919 Saint George
2919 Saint George in 1949

In the living room, “amateurs” affixed the floral wallpaper that hung above the oak wood paneling. The centerpiece, the fireplace, was also new, as the original crumbled during the move. It was upgraded with a recycled fixture: the old-fashioned sliding door from the dining room. Blackburn replaced it with French doors—and filled the built-in wall cabinet with her fine china, complementing the rose-colored drapery and rugs.

2919 Saint George
The new living and dining room

Upstairs, only two of the four bedrooms had been repainted. According to Blackburn, the color on the paint can did not look the same once applied to the wall.

Her suite was redone in pink and blue, a “shock” courtesy of her son Bill and two of his friends who mixed the paint. Ultimately, Blackburn loved the finished product: orchid walls and woodwork done in a vivid light blue. She toned it all down with white ruffled curtains and matching dressing table skirt. The adjoining sun porch was also painted blue and filled with a desk, typewriter, and “a few prized books [to] create a comfortable refuge.”

Not mentioned in the article was Blackburn’s new husband, Paramount publicity department boss Andy Hervey—her former neighbor back on Mariposa—whom she had married seven months earlier.

female Nash car dealership owner
Alice Blackburn in 1953

As much attention as Blackburn got for her house-moving party, she earned more for the life she carved out in the years following the stunt. In 1953, she became the first woman to own a Nash car dealership, located at 1150 S. La Brea Avenue.

She went on to open a second in North Hollywood and sold so many Nash Ramblers in 1956 the factory couldn’t keep up with her demand. Blackburn was also respected for ensuring her employees owned stock in the company. “The people who make it go should be in on the profits,” she told the Citizen-News.

Despite all that Blackburn achieved in her life—including the $1 million purchase of the Lone Palm Hotel in Palm Springs—the lead item in her 1996 obituary was the night she threw a house-moving party in 1948. That’s how proud she was of the clever Hollywood social event.

2919 Saint George
2919 Saint George in 2023

As it turns out, 2919 Saint George is on the market for the first time in six decades. The four-bedroom four-bathroom gem could once again use a little TLC, but the original 110-year-old details (as well as the 1950s remodeled kitchen) make it a one-of-a-kind time capsule.


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