Great Old Houses: 3001 Pacific


Hiding behind the trees at Pacific and Baker is a beautiful Georgian Revival house, all brick walls, white trim and fascinating roofline, the work of architects Bliss and Faville, who almost cornered the luxury market in Pacific Heights.

The mansion’s trim peaks in a broad entrance with an interrupted pediment over the door and fluted columns beside it. The clinker brick, dark baked like a good French bread and slightly irregular, gives the house an aura of age. Proportions are gracious and satisfying, with an easily comprehended geometry of cubes, double squares and equilateral triangles.

The client at 3001 Pacific was C.O.G. Miller. He moved in in 1907 with his wife, Janet, and brought up four children under Bliss and Faville’s elegant and multifaceted roof, with approximately five live-in servants part of the encampment.

C.O.G. (that’s Christian Otto Gerberding) founded Pacific Lighting Corp., a gas utilities holding company, in 1886 at the age of 21. Three years earlier his father, banker Albert Miller, had ordered C.O.G. to enter the gas business; the senior Miller had just invested in a new gaslight manufacturing company competing with the local big one. Eventually the two merged into PG&E, but not before C.O.G. had succeeded his father as president in 1900.

When he died at 87 in 1952, C.O.G. was still on the executive committees of PG&E and Pacific Lighting. He had also been a banker, president of AC Transit’s forerunner the Key System, a Stanford University trustee for 27 years and a director of Fireman’s Fund. As PG&E’s historian dryly remarked, “From the beginning he demonstrated a talent for finding business opportunities and a capacity to make them good.”

— Excerpted from an article originally published in the June 1988 issue of The New Fillmore and republished in Gables and Fables: A Portrait of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights by Anne Bloomfield and Arthur Bloomfield.