A new outlook on the park

The home at 2570 Jackson (far left), built in 1924, has been completely renovated.

The home at 2570 Jackson (left), built in 1924, has been completely renovated.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

A  flurry of recent renovations along the north side of Jackson Street facing Alta Plaza Park are nearing completion. The two blocks include a string of historic residences that have been home to many prominent San Franciscans. The exquisite French Revival style house at 2570 Jackson Street has been meticulously renovated and is again a private residence, after serving for decades as the official residence of the French consul general.
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Still standing after a move one lot south

The history of 2018 Webster (center) is intertwined with its neighbors, Temple Sherith Israel on the right and the Health Sciences Library on the left. Photograph by Bridget Maley.

The history of 2018 Webster (center) is intertwined with its neighbors, Temple Sherith Israel on the right and the Health Sciences Library on the left. Photograph by Shayne Watson.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Long owned by the California Pacific Medical Center, the house at 2018 Webster Street has remained vacant for almost 25 years. It was recently sold and will be returned to residential use, after a rear addition and interior upgrades, as three housing units.

The history of this Victorian house is intertwined with its two large institutional neighbors. Temple Sherith Israel, built in 1905, is on one side at the northeast corner of California and Webster. On the other, the Health Sciences Library, at the southeast corner of Sacramento and Webster, was constructed in 1912 as Lane Medical Library, a part of Stanford University. Both buildings are designated city landmarks and both were designed by noted San Francisco architect Albert Pissis.

In between sits the empty dwelling at 2018 Webster, constructed around 1889 with a mix of Victorian influences, including Queen Anne and Stick styles. Its hybrid features are typical of San Francisco’s Victorian residential architecture.

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The shah’s consulate

Built as a home, 34-- Washington was later a flashpoint for Iranian protests.

Built as a home, 3400 Washington was later a flashpoint for Iranian protests.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Constructed in 1927 by insurance executive Henry Foster Dutton for his second wife, Violet, the classically inspired house at 3400 Washington Street was acquired by the Imperial Government of Iran to serve as its official San Francisco consulate in the mid-1950s.

The house was designed by architect Erle J. Osborne, who had a steady stream of wealthy clients and produced interesting houses in Presidio Terrace, St. Francis Wood and Atherton — in addition to a few Southern California commissions — throughout the ’20s and ’30s. His corner lot house for the Duttons replaced a house built there earlier by Judge James Monroe Allen.

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Ever a house of healing

1801

Its richly ornate Romanesque portal welcomes visitors to 1801 Bush Street.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The Romanesque Revival, L-shaped building with the colorful garden courtyard at the corner of Bush and Octavia Streets was originally built nearly 90 years ago as Greens’ Eye Hospital. Doctors Aaron S. and Lewis D. Green, of Latvian heritage, came to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake to intern with Stanford Hospitals. Noted researchers, inventors and practitioners of various corneal treatments, the brothers were also active in community service, including working as ophthalmologists at San Quentin Prison.

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Grand in a very Victorian way

payne

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The Payne Mansion at 1409 Sutter Street, on the south side of Sutter between Franklin and Gough, is a distinctly visual reminder of the city’s Victorian past. Recently renovated to accommodate the boutique Payne Mansion Hotel, the building was constructed in 1881 and survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was designed by the architectural collaboration of two brothers-in-law, William F. Curlett and Theodore Eisen.

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Classically inspired — and connected

Pacific Heights School was built in 1924 at the corner of Jackson and Webster Streets.

Pacific Heights School was built in 1924 at the corner of Jackson and Webster Streets.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

A headline in the November 15, 1922, edition of the Chronicle proclaimed: “Board of Education Cites Pressing Need for Additional Quarters.” The ensuing article provided a long list of “needy schools.” City Architect John Reid Jr., a hometown boy who graduated from Lowell High School and UC Berkeley, was faced with a crisis in accommodating the city’s schools.

Within a few years, he and his colleagues designed almost 40 schools. Reid’s designs included several schools in the neighborhood: Pacific Heights Elementary, finished in 1924 at Jackson and Webster Streets, now San Francisco Public Montessori; Sherman Elementary, also completed in 1924, at Union and Franklin Streets; and Grant Elementary, dedicated in 1922, situated between Pacific and Broadway near Baker Street, now demolished.

Under his direction, his peers designed a number of other neighborhood schools, including the Emerson School at 2725 California, now Dr. William L. Cobb, and the Madison School at 3630 Divisadero Street, now part of Claire Lilienthal.

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Architect to the stars

Photograph of 2555 Divisadero Street by Shayne Watson

Photograph of 2555 Divisadero Street by Shayne Watson

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The house at 2555 Divisadero was designed by an “important, neglected California designer,” the Planning Department’s Citywide Historic Building Survey in 1976 noted. That architect, Paul Revere Williams, has since been rediscovered.

Williams, one of the few African-American architects working in California in the decades before World War II, is now well known, thanks to the perseverance and publications of his granddaughter, Karen E. Hudson. Her books lovingly tell the story of this remarkably talented and pioneering architect. A key designer of the Hollywood Regency style, Williams was a master at slenderizing and refining Classical forms and motifs, creating a Modern version of shapes and features extracted from traditional architecture.

Often referred to as “the architect to the stars,” Williams designed many Hollywood and Beverly Hills mansions, as well as some iconic Southern California buildings such as the Golden State Mutual Insurance Company — the largest black-owned insurance company west of the Mississippi — and the Music Corporation of America headquarters and the Saks Fifth Avenue store, both in Beverly Hills. He also made important renovations to two luxury hotels: the Beverly Hills and the Ambassador, which has since been demolished.

While Williams’ work in Northern California was limited to a few commissions, he partnered with his clients at 2555 Divisadero to create a Hollywood Regency style house set amidst the much more traditional Colonial Revival houses atop Pacific Heights.

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Father-son architects left their mark

E.G. Bolles designed one of the more interesting apartment facades in the neighborhood at 2360 Pacific.

E.G. Bolles designed 2360 Pacific Avenue, one of the more interesting apartment facades.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The apartment building at 2360 Pacific Avenue, near Fillmore Street, was built just prior to the 1929 stock market crash as an intense period of apartment development in Pacific Heights was ending.

The building, with both Art Deco and Spanish Colonial Revival influences, is a somewhat schizophrenic remnant of the Roaring ’20s. It oozes the glamour of an earlier era. Yet its multi-light, industrial sash windows, which dominate the front facade, were almost never used in residential buildings. Here these windows resulted in one of the more interesting apartment facades in the neighborhood — and a brilliant design decision by a not-so-well-known architect, Edward Grosvener Bolles.

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Library a treasure in terra cotta

Photographs of the Golden Gate Valley Branch Library © Bruce Damonte

Photographs of the Golden Gate Valley Branch Library © Bruce Damonte

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The terra cotta clad treasure that sits at the southwest corner of Green and Octavia Streets is often mistaken for a bank. This exquisitely designed building was built in 1918 as San Francisco’s fifth branch library funded through the Carnegie Corporation’s Library Program. Designed by architect Ernest Coxhead, known primarily for his ecclesiastical and residential works, this neighborhood library incorporates a rounded end resembling a church apse, a semicircular recess often containing the altar.

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The castle on Vallejo

The complex of buildings at 1729 Vallejo. | Photograph by Shayne Watson

The complex of buildings at 1729 Vallejo. | Photograph by Shayne Watson

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Some buildings stop you in your tracks.

That’s what happened to me the first time I walked by 1729 Vallejo, between Franklin and Gough Streets. Often referred to as Digby’s Castle, the complex of buildings evokes something out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Built into the hill, with a stone retaining wall forming a barrier to the private space beyond, it is a collection of small buildings, some constructed of a deep terra cotta-colored hollow clay tile. Set in a garden, the buildings dot the landscape, creating interlocking courtyards. While the buildings are small in scale, they still convey the feeling of a medieval fortress or castle.

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