SF Architecture: Where Modern Meets the Past
Thousands of homes were built in San Francisco thanks to the abundance of coastal redwoods that contributed to the mass production of timber. These homes were built cheaper due to the local wood supply, but strong, as the redwood was ideal in resisting rot and termites and is an easy material to use. Following the 1906 earthquake, however, many homes were lost in the Great Fire except for the homes surrounding the Haight District – some of which include original homes dating back to the Victorian era (1825 – 1901).
During the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria, many architectural styles were popularized in the United States. In turn, what evolved was an architectural style loosely based on medieval styles with multi-textured or multi-colored walls, steeply-pitched roofs and asymmetrical facades. The combination of several other architectural styles such as Stick-Eastlake and Queen Anne collectively make up what is now known as “Victorian.” The inspiration in building these beautiful homes came from nature, history, geometry, and of course, one’s personal preference. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that the style became more elaborate due to the influence of the Industrial
The Stick-Eastlake houses are known for the long, thin pieces of wood called ‘sticks’ placed on the surface of the home. These ‘sticks’ are meant to be decorative and expressive of the wood frame structure. The style was primarily ornamental and applied to the already well-established row house prototype. The façade is usually dominated with the two story rectilinear bay window with detailed rooflines that have truss work.
‘Painted Ladies’ & 1198 Fulton
The Queen Anne style was well-suited to large lots and was very popular in semi-rural areas, however, San Francisco took to the style quickly implementing it to the standard 25’ wide urban lot. The Queen Anne is principally about asymmetry, picturesque massing, variety of color, multi-textured façades, steeply pitched roofs with cutaway bay windows and stained glass. Despite the cramped conditions of San Francisco this style took over the corner lots that generally doubled in width.
710 Ashbury is home to the band the ‘Grateful Dead’ (1966-1968). During this time was the famous drug bust in 1967 and of course, the Summer of Love.