Midcentury Modern Beach House Moved
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Mar. 16, 2009
A lot could have gone wrong in the case of a midcentury modern New Jersey beach house: storms, red tape, an impatient developer—even destruction. But nothing did.
In December, news broke that the Lieb House, designed in 1967 by Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, would be sold to a developer who wanted to build a larger house in its place.
Venturi and Scott Brown's son, James Venturi, found a New York couple interested in saving the house by paying for its relocation. Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin, friends of the Venturi family, own a 1985 Venturi house on Long Island and had expressed interest in building one of the firm's designs.
"I was elated when they took me up on the offer," Venturi says.
On Friday, a crowd of 150 people, including Venturi and Scott Brown, gathered at South Street Seaport to watch a barge carrying the 30-by-37-foot house through New York Harbor.
"It was thrilling and surprising that it was getting all this attention," Robert Venturi says. "It was very dramatic."
Also watching were the new homeowners, who sponsored the 20-hour journey past Sandy Hook and under the Brooklyn Bridge. They will use the 1,500-square-foot house as guest quarters next to their other Venturi residence.
The Lieb House began its 95-mile journey from Barnegat Light, N.J., to Glen Cove, N.Y., six weeks ago. On Jan. 30, it was moved from its original site to a Barnegat marina, in order to comply with a deadline imposed by Ziman Development. Ziman has already started construction on a new, larger house on the old lot.
"I call architecture the most fragile of the media," Robert Venturi says. "Often it doesn't last very long ... and we have to accept it. We are so grateful to fate and to Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin for doing all this."
For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.