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Shel Silverstein’s whimsical houseboat floats onto the market in Sausalito

The decommissioned military vessel boasts two bedrooms, a bathroom and bohemian living spaces in 1,200 square feet.
(Christian Klugmann)

In Sausalito, a one-of-a-kind listing is offering a unique chance to quarantine at sea. A World War II-era balloon barge, which was owned for decades by poet Shel Silverstein, has surfaced for sale at $783,000.

Dubbed “Evil Eye,” the nautical retreat boasts a storied past. Balloon barges were used as observation vessels during the war and featured tethered kite balloons to ward off potential divebombers. After the war, it was decommissioned and fashioned into a 1,200-square-foot houseboat, after which “The Giving Tree” author bought it in the ’60s and owned it until his death in 1999.

The following decades saw the military vessel age into a dilapidated home full of old wood and a handful of stained-glass windows, but after it sold for $375,000 in 2017, its new owner transformed it into a bohemian space fit for an artist.

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Skylights and string lights brighten the main living area complete with a raised lounge and custom dining table. Farther in, there’s a sleek gray-and-white kitchen with a wood accent wall.

A staircase descends to the lower level, where whitewashed beams hang over gray hardwood floors. The space holds a living room, a guest bedroom with a hanging bed and a master bedroom with a lounge.

Dianne Andrews of Engel & Völkers Sausalito holds the listing.

A writer known for his cartoons and children’s books, Silverstein created many works including “Now Here’s My Plan,” “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” His works have sold more than 20 million copies, and the Chicago native also received two Grammy Awards and an Oscar nomination.


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