The 10 Heaviest Buildings Ever Moved


Fairmount Hotel (1,600 Tons)

San Antonio's Fairmount Hotel, built in 1906, was once a luxurious refuge for railroad passengers and was dubbed the "Jewel of San Antonio." By 1984, however, the three-story, Victorian-style hotel had fallen out of favor and settled into a state of disrepair. City developers eyed the historic red brick structure -- known for its ornate stone trim, picturesque windows and stately verandas -- for demolition because it stood in the path of a new shopping mall. In the end, history won.

In 1985, under the guidance of the San Antonio Conservation Society, the city opted to move the Fairmount Hotel five blocks from its original location. The ambitious project would place the iconic building just two blocks from another San Antonio landmark: the Alamo.

To begin the six-block move, the Fairmount Hotel was pulled off its foundation, inch by inch, and placed onto 36 dollies with pneumatic tires [source: Texas Crane]. A crane pulled the building forward 50 feet (15 meters) at a time through the city streets. At one point, the hotel made a precarious journey across the Market Street bridge that spans the city's Riverwalk. The bridge was reinforced for the occasion, but even so, the mover put three bottles of beer on a ledge underneath the bridge. The bottles served as a canary in a coal mine, so to speak. If they broke, it would be the first warning sign that the bridge was beginning to sag. As word of the move spread and captured the popular interest, the Las Vegas odds were 7-to-3 that the hotel would make it to the other side.

Fortunately, all three things made it successfully through the move -- the hotel, the bridge and the beer -- and five days after its big move began, the Fairmount was poised to remain an integral part of the city's historic landscape [source: Fisher].

On the next page, discover why the Detroit Lions have a theater to thank for their stadium's prime location.