Upon his death in 1999, famed writer and artist Shel Silverstein left behind an enchanting legacy of songs, cartoons, children’s books—and a very bohemian houseboat. This World War II-era balloon barge, purchased by The Giving Tree author in the 1960s, is now up for sale in sleepy Sausalito, California, reports Jack Flemming for the Los Angeles Times.
The nautical lodging doesn’t come cheap, with a starting price of $783,000. But for the right type of history buff, the houseboat may be well worth it.
First used during World War II, when it helped American forces scour the skies for kamikaze aircraft, the vessel was repurposed into a 1,200-square-foot houseboat after the Axis Powers surrendered, reported Jeff Greenwald for Smithsonian magazine in 2012.
Silverstein purchased the converted boat in 1967, three years after he published The Giving Tree. Somewhere along the way, it acquired the catchy nickname of Evil Eye—a possible homage to its haunting stained glass windows, writes Debbie Wolfe for Realtor.com.
Though romantic, the seaside outpost wasn’t necessarily glamorous.
“People lived here because they could afford it,” photographer and artist Larry Moyer, a longtime friend of Silverstein’s who inherited the boat after the author’s death, told Smithsonian. “You could find an old lifeboat hull to build on, and there was always stuff to recycle because of the shipyards.”
Evil Eye spent years witnessing Silverstein, who split his time between homes in Massachusetts, New York and Florida, progress in his artistic career—which was eventually honored with two Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe—from afar. Upon the writer’s death more than three decades later, the vessel changed hands to Moyer, who himself died in 2016. Over the years, the vessel languished under somewhat infrequent care, and by the time it went on the market in 2017, realtor Paul Bergeron was billing it as “a great opportunity to remodel,” reported Adam Brinklow for Curbed at the time.
The new owner took Bergeron’s advice to heart. Over the past few years, the boat has been transformed into a jazzed up bohemian getaway, complete with two bedrooms, an updated bathroom, skylights and a refurbished kitchen. Nestled in a large community of other floating homes, Evil Eye offers a surprisingly spacious interior and stunning views of the bay north of San Francisco.
For those hesitant to pony up the full price, the listing offers the option of an extended Airbnb-style stay of 30 days at the minimum.