Scheller House on the Move

Last week I got to watch the historic Scheller House, all 200 tons and 6500 square feet of it, move a mile through the streets of San Jose pulled by a semi-trailer truck.

Here are all the sketches in the chronological order in which they were created in a window of about 2 hours.

This first one I caught just as the very last branches of a big tree were cut so the house could turn a corner. It always takes me a while to get a feel for the scene and settle down into sketching in the middle of activity and a crowd and you can see in sketch #1 that I didn’t quite get around to really giving you a scale of the house in comparison to the narrow street it was on.

I then ran around onto campus grounds and watched a crew painstakingly lay boards over lawn so the semi could pull the house over. This much slower process allowed for a few more captures.


Built in 1904 by San Jose architect Theodore Lenzen, this house had moved more than once in it’s lifetime. This time it moved from near 4th and San Carlos streets to the corner of E. San Antonio and S. 10th streets. I was doubly excited for Saturday: as an urban sketcher it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime sketching opportunity. But the house was also a huge win for preserving San Jose’s history. As a board member of Preservation Action Council of San Jose I got to see first hand how much goes into these efforts but also what is possible to achieve when the city, the university and advocacy groups work together.

Here’s one I didn’t get to finishing. It shows how I work when I work quickly on complex scenes: the line goes down first. Here; it is part in pen and part in pencil. Color would have followed. (I might try and use my other sketches as references and finish this one.)

I had to take a break from this sketch to go hold up a Preservation Action Council of San Jose banner with these wonderful members of the organization.


And I turned around and realized I had a fantastic angle of the house and I had to draw it. So I did one more sketch, this one.

Which you can also see in this video with the house. (Warning: loud machinery sounds, check volume before you play)


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in california, Close to home, reportage, san jose, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Scheller House on the Move

  1. Lois Stevens says:

    How interesting, Suhita. So glad you were able to document this move with your wonderful sketches.


  2. Terrific to see! The sketches really capture the magnitude of it all. I’m interested to know why it was moved, not once, but twice. I’ll look that up. Congrats to the preservation council.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 28pwilson says:

    USk Kansas City is fortunate to have a person working for the Architectural History Society of KC, alert us when building are on the ‘endangered list’. We are trying to get a collection of sketches together for a show for them. How fortunate you are they moved this house vs destroying it. Wonderful documentary sketches you have done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Judith M Plummer says:

    After attending your workshop at the Los Gatos Museum last year, I ventured over to the Historic Park in San Jose. What a splendid surprise. As it happened, they were having a Model T Ford “convention”. I was pleased to see that the park was not commercialized at all. San Jose holds many surprises. Well done for your efforts on preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful sketches and a very unique experience. I really enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dana Richards says:

    I greatly enjoy ALL your posts – travels, sign, etc but this series tops them all! THANK YOU for sharing your talent & your interests with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Blogs-R-Us says:

    I am trying to find a word for this…Your sketches are something that is not seen normally, hence they feel refreshing and unique. Somewhat gives me a feeling of Mario Miranda’s sketches. Awesome. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing this experience so effectively! You bring out all the excitement and vivid beauty of what would be a stressful process! Loved the sketches!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mick263 says:

    Hello. Interesting to see your great sketches of this event. This happens very rarely in UK. Just a small point – I doubt whether the house was built in 1094 !! Mick

    Liked by 1 person

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