An architect’s classic but understated homes

An attractive grouping of E.E. Young’s work graces the southwest corner of Octavia and Jackson.

An grouping of E.E. Young’s work graces the southwest corner of Octavia and Jackson.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Architect Edward Eyestone Young became known for his collaborative work with speculative housing developers during the first few decades of the 20th century. Designing and building houses primarily on San Francisco’s north side, with a particular focus in Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights and along Lake Street, Young established strong relationships with some of the city’s important developers. Several homes were often crafted in a small group, each with a similar floor plan but with varying facades.

Three of Young’s more distinctive Pacific Heights collections still stand at the corners of Octavia and Jackson, Divisadero and Green, and Presidio and Jackson.

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An Art Deco treasure is diminished

The original blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

The blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

ARCHITECTURE |  THERESE POLETTI

In the spring, neighbors and patrons of the Elite Cafe were dismayed to hear that the 35-year-old restaurant had been sold, fearful it would fall victim to the current depressing trend in San Francisco of gutting historic interiors down to the studs.

But news that the buyer was a group headed by San Francisco restaurateur Andy Chun, who was responsible for a sensitive 2014 remodel of the historic German beer hall Schroeder’s in the Financial District, reassured patrons who cherished the Elite’s Art Deco interior. Chun said his plans were to keep much of the Art Deco interior intact, but with a contemporary interpretation of the decorative style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

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First a Masonic meeting hall, now a church

The brick and stone building at 2135 Sutter was completed in October 1907.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Built as the Golden Gate Commandery for the Knights Templar, the distinctive structure at 2135 Sutter Street between Steiner and Pierce Streets was under construction when the 1906 earthquake struck, delaying its completion. Claiming to descend from the Knights Templar of the Crusaders, who in the 12th century served to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Masonic Order of the Knights Templar built the meeting hall there after outgrowing an earlier structure.

When the brick and stone building was finally completed in October 1907, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: “The hall is said to be one of the finest and best appointed temples in the land.” Designed by the architectural firm of O’Brien and Werner, a partnership known for other Masonic-related projects, the building has been an important neighborhood landmark for a century.

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An anti-Victorian pair of townhouses

The Tudor style townhouses at 3356 and 3362 Jackson Street are a perfectly matched set.

The Tudor style townhouses at 3356 and 3362 Jackson Street are a perfectly matched set.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The two English-inspired Tudor style townhouses at 3356 and 3362 Jackson Street are a perfectly matched set. Built for George and Ruth Beveridge in 1898, this charming Presidio Heights ensemble was designed by the short-lived architectural partnership of Newton J. Tharp and Edward L. Holmes.

George Beveridge, a successful miner who made considerable investments in Mexico, married Ruth Coffin in 1895. Two years later, he purchased the double lot on Jackson Street and commissioned Tharp and Holmes to design two abutting, well-appointed townhouses — one for the Beveridges to occupy and the other to sell or rent.

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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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