One twin without the other

Photograph of 1969 California Street by Shayne Watson

Photograph of the Tobin house at 1969 California Street by Shayne Watson

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Something appears to be missing from the house at 1969 California Street.

Indeed, the other half of the intended complex was never built. Originally conceived to have a twin to the west, the half arch that would have accessed a center drive between the two houses terminates mid-air and crashes into a mismatching building next door.

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‘Petit Trianon’ sells for a petite price

The 14-bedroom chateau at 3800 Washington Street sold in a foreclosure sale.

The 14-bedroom chateau replica at 3800 Washington Street sold in a foreclosure sale.

REAL ESTATE | PATRICK BARBER

The recent sale of the mansion known as the Petit Trianon in Presidio Heights highlights the importance of realistic pricing and proper maintenance, while another sale just a block away underscores that today’s high-end San Francisco homebuyers gravitate toward modern architecture.

In mid-July, the 14-bedroom, 20,000-square-foot French chateau replica at 3800 Washington Street sold for $15,750,000 in a foreclosure sale — 12 percent less than the listing price. It took 442 days to find a buyer. Designated as a national historic landmark, the home sits on three lots totaling almost 29,000 square feet in one of San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods.

However, the grand home had not been staged to showcase its livability, its exterior and grounds were in disrepair, a squatter had taken over the guest house and skateboarders made the marble steps their personal park — all of which substantially reduced the home’s curb appeal. Additionally, the property had been overpriced in multiple sale attempts over the past few years. Despite the long marketing time, arranging tours proved difficult. And at least one offer higher than the final sale price was not accepted.

The contemporary home at 101 Maple proved to be more desirable.

The contemporary home at 101 Maple proved to be more desirable.

Compare that sale with neighboring 101 Maple Street, which fetched just under $10 million at the end of June. That five-bedroom home sits on a single lot about one-tenth of the size of its neighbor and sold in a relatively speedy 54 days. The Maple Street property resonated with home shoppers due to its sleek, contemporary design and open floor plan, which are favored by many of today’s younger San Francisco homebuyers.

Patrick Barber is president of Pacific Union.

Moved from Union Square

The home at 2355 Washington was moved from its original location near Union Square.

The home at 2355 Washington was moved from its original location near Union Square.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

“The large frame dwelling which for so many years stood at the northeast corner of Sutter and Mason Streets has been removed to the south side of Washington between Buchanan and Webster, where it is being remodeled and improved by Dr. Merritt, daughter of the late Adolph Sutro.” So reported the Chronicle on July 7, 1900.

That handsome residence now sits at 2355 Washington Street. Constructed around 1870, the house changed hands at least one other time before coming into the possession of Emma Sutro Merritt and her husband, George Washington Merritt, who was also a doctor. The wood-frame, Italianate and Second Empire influenced house with an unusual mansard roof originally sat a few blocks below the apex of Nob Hill.

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The Grabhorn brothers were master printers

A plaque at 1335 Sutter Street notes the building’s history.

A plaque at 1335 Sutter Street notes the building’s history.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn founded their Studio Press in 1916 in Indianapolis. They moved to San Francisco in 1919, and a few years later their enterprise formally became known as Grabhorn Press. During that time, California was becoming a hub for small, craft-driven print houses. The Grabhorn brothers soon became among the state’s most respected specialty printers.

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Plan for Alta Plaza: ‘Go lightly’

Improvements at Alta Plaza Park can proceed now that a plan has been adopted.

Improvements at Alta Plaza Park can proceed now that a master plan has been adopted.

A MASTER PLAN for Alta Plaza Park was approved by the Recreation and Park Commission on April 21, clearing the way for long-awaited improvements.

The plan would repair crumbling asphalt pathways, replace aging furnishings and replant, with new drought-resistant landscaping, the entrances to the hilltop park created more than a century ago by John McLaren, the visionary who also guided the creation of Golden Gate Park.

“Go lightly,” said landscape architect Jeffrey Miller, who developed the plan at the behest of the Friends of Alta Plaza Park, a neighborhood group founded in 2004. “This was the message: Maintain the park as it is. Maintain the beauty and simplicity of this park.”

A decade ago, the Friends raised the money to renovate the playground and tennis courts atop the park. Then, to conserve water and stop leakage onto the sidewalks, the city installed a new irrigation system and replanted the terraces on the south side of the park.

“It became apparent there has to be a sequence of things,” said Judith Maxwell, who lives near the park. “We learned that when the no-mow grass was put in but the leaks weren’t fixed.”

Commission president Mark Buell recused himself from the hearing “because I live within about five feet of the park.” Buell and his wife Susie Tompkins Buell live in the penthouse of the 2500 Steiner Street tower on the northeast corner of the park.

Others lauded the Friends for their extraordinary public outreach during the last decade while the plan was being developed.

“You set a new standard,” said commissioner Meagan Levitan, a real estate agent who is active in the neighborhood.

“It’s been a long road for the Friends of Alta Plaza Park,” said Phil Ginsburg, director of the Recreation and Park Department. “It is not lost on us how much you care about this piece of open space.”

VIEW THE MASTER PLAN

A modern cathedral celebrates 45 years

St. Mary's Cathedral soon after it opened in 1971.

St. Mary’s Cathedral soon after its opening, beyond the tower of St. Marks Lutheran Church. Photos: San Francisco History Center | San Francisco Public Library

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

May 2016 marks the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, a recognized masterpiece of religious architecture at 1111 Gough Street. Opening after an agonizing design process, the building was not immediately loved by many of San Francisco’s Catholics, who had previously worshiped in two very traditional churches.

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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 Fillmore getting a jazzier sign

Fillmore-sign-FINAL

A NEW MARQUEE is in the works for the legendary Fillmore Auditorium at Geary and Fillmore.

The Planning Commission has unanimously approved changes to the city’s sign ordinance that would permit a 60-foot-tall vertical blade proclaiming both the storied rock ’n’ roll venue and the surrounding neighborhood. Currently signs can be no higher than 24 feet. The proposal now goes before the Board of Supervisors.

The new marquee would replace both the existing Fillmore sign, which rarely functions, and the illuminated check cashing signs below it. Drawings of the new sign considered by the Planning Commission report were said to be placeholders while the law is changed. The final design of the new sign is expected to be more artistically exciting.

Planning staff noted that because the building opened as the Majestic — a dance hall — it never had a historic marquee. It became the Fillmore Auditorium in 1954.

An icon gets more authentic

Photograph of the Haas-Lilienthal House by Jim Simmons Photography

Photograph of the Haas-Lilienthal House by Jim Simmons Photography

THE HAAS-LILIENTHAL HOUSE at 2005 Franklin Street has a new paint job that returns the historic Victorian to its original, more subdued color palette.

To restore the historic integrity of the house, which now serves as its headquarters, San Francisco Heritage commissioned architectural conservator Molly Lambert to conduct a paint study to determine the original colors, patterns and sheens of the house. Lambert took 40 paint samples for microscopic testing, which can differentiate layers of primer, glaze, dirt and paint to identify the original colors.

“We don’t choose colors,” said Lambert. “They are there for us to discover.”

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