Fifteen years ago, Jan’s House of Hope was constructed and sailed along the Eastern Seaboard. Design Basics was honored to be an integral part of this unique event. Read the reprint of the story below:

Jan's House of Hope on barge

A Houseboat Filled with Hope:

Waging war on cancer with an ocean-going, 1 ½-story home

Design Basics has designed and sold plans in some unexpected places, such as Alaska, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia, Brazil, Chile, and Japan. But the latest location was by far the most unusual–on top of a 150-foot by 60-foot ocean-going barge.

Named Jan’s House of Hope in honor of a courageous woman who lost her battle to lung cancer, the home floated down the east coast during June and July of 2001. The aim of the project was to raise cancer awareness and funds to benefit hospice and other cancer-related programs.

The 3,100-square-foot two-story home was manufactured in a factory. Sixteen tractor trailers were required to deliver its six modular units, several roof pieces, and trusses to the barge. Cranes and crews clad in life jackets assembled the units in a day and a half. Extra safety measures were taken during the construction to withstand three-foot waves and other unique conditions the house was being exposed.

The floating house docked in seven cities between New Hampshire and Virginia. A special VIP preview party was held at each port of call; some ports even held fashion shows highlighting accessories designed for cancer patients. Following each party, the house was open to public tours. Donations to tour the house went to each port host for that city. Peter Yarrow (formerly of Peter, Paul, and Mary), gave a benefit concert in Branford to benefit The Connecticut Hospice.

The project generated tremendous publicity. It’s estimated over 100 television stations and 200 newspapers covered the story, including USA Today, People Magazine, and the Today Show. The September 2001 issue of Home magazine carried a 10-page feature on the house. Organizers believe the event generated the equivalent of 15 million dollars in free publicity.

The gray and red-shingled, Craftsman style home was far from a typical houseboat. Cathedral ceilings, elegant columns, French doors, and a dramatic loft overlooking the great room provided high style. Special amenities included Pella windows with retractable screens, a luxurious kitchen with Jenn-Air appliances, a state-of-the-art plasma TV by Sharp in the media room, a beautiful whirlpool in the master bath, and a media room with stereo equipment worth $40,000. The handicapped-accessible home featured a stair lift and was fully decorated and landscaped.

After the public tours at its final destination in Norfolk, Virginia, the house dismantled and offered for sale, along with its contents. Proceeds [were] donated to the National Cancer Awareness Foundation. And, 20 percent of the revenue generated from the sales of the plan used to construct the floating home (Jan’s House of Hope, plan #6739) [was] donated to the National Cancer Awareness Foundation.

Original publication: Spec Build, 2001 edition

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