RUSSIAN HILL GREEN STREET/MACONDRAY LANE WALK
THE INTERSECTION OF VALLEJO AND JONES STREET
Begin your walk at the intersection of Vallejo and Jones Streets.
Walk north on Jones Street.
1821 Jones, Architects: Albert J. Fabre and Ernest H. Hildebrand, 1916
This three-story house contains two archways on the ground floor, one for the door, one for the garage. The third floor has an interesting balcony on one side and a bay window on the other.
This charming grey stuccoed building, originally a two-family dwelling, looks like a building you might find in Tuscany. We have no information on this building.
At the corner of Green, turn left onto Green Street.
The “Paris Block” (the 1000 block of Green Street), Green Street between Jones and Leavenworth
The “Paris Block” was first identified in print in an article by Margot Patterson Doss in her July 5, 1964 San Francisco Chronicle column. Doss heard this title from neighborhood residents and believed that it referred to the elegant apartment building at 1050 Green which evokes images of similarly styled buildings in Paris.
This block contains twelve buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the south side: 1017-1019, 1025, 1033, 1039-1043, 1045, 1055, and 1067. Much or all of the south side of the block survived the earthquake and fire of 1906.
On the north side: 1030, 1040, 1050, 1060, and 1088.
Each of the twelve buildings is of a different architectural style. This makes this block unique in Russian Hill.
1017-1019 Green, Architect: Ernest H. Hildebrand, 1925
This vaguely Mission Revival duplex, while not outstanding in design, contributes to the historic district in size, scale, and materials. Its original owner, Mrs. Ida Jones Bateman, did not reside in the building.
1025 Green, “Butler-Levaggi House,” Architect: Harvey E. Harris, Jr., 1911
This two-story, high basement building combines a mixture of Mission Revival (stucco facade and three-bay entry arcade), Colonial Revival (overscale dentil molding), and Craftsman (eaves projecting over part of the side arcade). Although not considered outstanding in design, it fits comfortably into the block. The original owner, Louis Butler (a liquor dealer), sold the house to Jules Levaggi about 1917. Levaggi’s descendents owned the house until 1980.
1033 Green, “James S. Cowen House,” Architect unknown, c. 1870, moved to this site c. 1891 by merchant tailor Oliver W. Nordwell
This is a standard upper-middle-class Italianate house. The door may be original but its surround and fanlight are a completely different architectural style. A contemporary third floor, which bears no architectural resemblance to the remainder of the building, was added c.1960. The garage was added in the 1990s. Cowen, the second owner of the building on this site, lived here beginning in 1987. He was a cannery superintendent.
1039-1043 Green, “George Phillips Flats,” Architects: Samuel & Joseph Newsom, 1885
The most distinguishing feature on this house—described by some resources as Italianate, by others as Stick Style—is the elegant s-curved stairway to the second floor entrance. The Newsom brothers were known for far more eccentric designs, such as the Carson House in Eureka, but built this building with a restraint that fits this block. The doors at the entrance to the second floor appear to have been the result of splitting the second and third floors into two flats. Recent work to convert the upper two floors to one flat leads to strong support that this was originally a two-flat building with the upper flat containing the top two floors. Some early published resources such as Here Today suggested that this house might have been moved to this site. Research by Anne Bloomfield for the Paris Block National Register Historic District and William Kostura for Russian Hill: The Summit 1853-1906 conclude that the house was constructed at this site. The house’s original owner, Phillips, was a lumber clerk.
1045 Green, “O’Brien Family House,” c. 1867, remodeled c. 1910
Originally built as an Italianate building, the house underwent many Craftsman additions c.1910 including the shingles and the eight-sided cupola. But you can still see the Italianate features, particularly on the windows. From the front this appears to be a tiny house, but it is actually quite large with a lovely back garden. If you stand on the right side of the house you can get a perspective of the size of the house and garden. Many people have thought that this was originally a schoolhouse or a firehouse but it has always been a single family home. In 1875, John O’Brien, an employment and real estate agent, moved here. His son, Charles W. O’Brien, added the shingles and cupola. He lived here through 1945.
1055 Green, “David Atkins House,” c. 1866, completely reworked c.1915 by Julia Morgan for importer and merchant, David Atkins
Julia Morgan transformed a simple Italianate house into a Beaux Arts villa. The stucco treatment on the facade and the ironwork on the balcony distinguish this building. The entrance is barely noticeable from the street with its recessed entry.
Note that the ironwork treatment on the front balcony is repeated in the gate. The remainder of the iron fence appears to predate Morgan’s work.
1067 Green, “Feusier Octagon House,” c. 1857-1859, mansard roof and cupola added probably in the 1880s
This may be the most distinctive house in Russian Hill. This San Francisco City Landmark (#36) is one of the few remaining octagon houses in the City. The closest remaining octagon house is at Union and Gough Streets which is owned and managed by the Colonial Dames of America. Octagon houses were considered to be healthier to live in by their proponent, phrenologist, Orson S. Fowler.
The original owner of the house was George Kenny. Produce merchant Louis Feusier added the mansard roof. He was a friend of Leland Stanford and Mark Twain.
In the past, neighbors have blocked plans of developers to demolish this house to make way for a larger replacement building. An innovative solution was crafted between one owner, the next door condominium owners, and the neighbors to provide parking for this house in the 1970s or 1980s. A garage was built on the back of the property with automobile access from Leavenworth Street through the condominium driveway next door. This allowed the owner to have a garage without affecting the Green Street facade and side yards.
1101 Green, Architect: H.C. Bauman, 1930
Just outside the historic district, at the southwest corner of Leavenworth and Green Streets, rises a twenty-story concrete-reinforced white Art Deco apartment building. In contrast with the high-rises built in Russian Hill in the 1960s and 1970s, this building adds architectural charm to the neighborhood. There is exceptional detail on the exterior of the building. Peek into the entrance to see the vaulted, heavily-ornamented, neo-Churrigueresque (Spanish) lobby ceiling.
Downhill and next door to 1101 Green are two complexes of Tudor-gabled, bay-windowed apartment buildings sitting atop a high retaining wall. Each has steps leading into an open courtyard. Plans to turn the units into condominiums and to dig into the retaining wall and add garages have been blocked in the past.
1088 Green, “Engine House #31,” Architect: Newton J. Tharp, 1907
After the 1906 earthquake and fire, Newton J. Tharp was named city architect. He was charged with rebuilding city government buildings. He designed this firehouse along with a number of Beaux Arts-style firehouses. This is probably the only firehouse of Craftsman/Tudor Revival style. In 1952, the firehouse was deactivated. In 1958, philanthropist Louise M. Davies bought the firehouse. For many years the firehouse served as the location for Russian Hill Neighbors’ general meetings. In 1978, Mrs. Davies donated the firehouse to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the 1990s the Trust sold the firehouse to the Scottish American St. Andrew’s Society. It is a San Francisco City Landmark.
1060 Green, “Charles & Ethel Fickert House,” Architect: Edward T. Foulkes, 1912
This building, originally a single family house, is a four-story loosely Colonial Revival apartment building. The original owner, Charles M. Fickert, was the District Attorney who had the San Francisco graft trials dismissed.
1050 Green, “George A. Bos Apartments,” Architect: Lewis P. Hobart, 1913
This elegant building, now condominiums, was probably responsible for the district’s name, “Paris Block.” It is a five-story Classical Revival building, reminiscent of Parisian apartment buildings. The simple front garden, along with a black wrought-iron front door, give this building a unique graciousness. Louis Hobart, its architect, studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He was nationally known as the designer of many significant buildings, such as San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.
1040 Green, “Luke J. Flynn House,” Architect: Llewellyn B. Dutton , 1912
This stucco house combines Mission Revival stucco elements with Colonial Revival features. Its original owner was associated with capitalist James L. Flood. A garage, added in 1953, blocks views of the house and breaks up the open front space established by 1050 and 1060 Green.
1030 Green, “John & Blanche Baldwin McGaw House,” Architect: Oscar Haupt, 1913
A brick wall (probably predating the house) and hedge separate this Mission Revival and Pueblo Style house from the street. This two-story stucco house has a fine recessed Tuscan entrance. The house has irregular massing and unique ornamentation. Blanche Baldwin’s father, real estate tycoon Orville Baldwin, owned a house at 1020 Green which was demolished at an undetermined date.
900 BLOCK OF GREEN STREET
This is an exceptionally architecturally diverse block, ranging from the massive 33-story 999 Green to the single-story stucco bungalow with gardens on all sides at 960 Green. The street ends at a cul-de-sac in the middle of the block. From there the public street descends down a long stairway. Just east of Jones Street, at the edge of 999 Green, a large rock outcropping protrudes into the street, narrowing it to a one lane street until it opens back up at a cul-de-sac.
999 Green, “The Summit,” Architects: Claude Oakland and Associates, 1965
This looming residential high-rise was built for Joseph Eichler, developer of much of the stucco housing in San Francisco’s Sunset District in the 1940s and 1950s and the open-beamed, glass and wood alternative to ranch houses on the San Francisco Peninsula in the 1960s. Eichler was the first occupant of the two-story penthouse. Later owners of the penthouse have been Pat Montandon, a figure in San Francisco’s society pages in the 1970s, and more recently George and Charlotte Maillard Shultz. An open dead space above the garage and under the tower may have been an accommodation to residents on Russian Hill Place to allow them to retain some view toward the bay.
982 Green, “Edward A. Huber House,” Architect unknown, 1878
This is the earliest house on this block. It is a rectangular three-unit Italianate building set back on the lot. Its purple paint makes it easy to find. Two carports, obviously not part of the original design, occupy the front sides of the lot. A charming carriage lamp is found in the middle of the open garden space. The Huber family resided here until at least 1930.
960 Green, “Augusta Maeburn House,” Architect: Arthur Laib, 1907
Augusta Maeburn, widowed in 1881, lived on this site from 1890 and rebuilt this stucco bungalow shortly after the 1906 fire. This house is unique on this block for its gardens on all sides.
955 Green, Architect: George Homsey, 1999-2000
This was the last remaining undeveloped property on this block. It is now the site of a six-unit luxury condominium structure with a 23-car garage. The design is Spanish Revival. The building steps down from the western side of the lot from a height equal to the adjoining condominium at 8 Florence Place. George and Putnam Livermore purchased this property, along with the adjoining property at 1020 Vallejo Street, to prevent development of a 50-story apartment building on this site. They commissioned Homsey to design two properties: the award-winning shingle-style 1020 Vallejo and the Spanish-style 955 Green.
940 Green, “Charles Lux Lewis House,” Architect: John K. Banner, 1922
This elegant large stucco house has recently undergone significant renovation. The work reinforced the original design. The house, with a raised entry on its left/east side, has interesting massing on many planes, in addition to many roof elements and shapes covered with tiles and other elements of Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival style. This is certainly the best and most uniquely designed house in this block.
945 Green, Architect unknown, late 1920s
This was the earliest of the mid- to high-rise buildings on this part of Russian Hill. This tall apartment building cut off the northwestern views of 1000 Vallejo Street. See below.
947 Green, Architects: Bos and Quandt, 1927-1929
This apartment building is known as the “spite building.” (Not to be confused with the 30-foot “spite fence” that Charles Crocker built around the property of Nicolas Yung in the Nob Hill block that currently houses Grace Cathedral. Yung was the only holdout in Crocker’s mansion block and refused to sell his small property to Crocker.)
The owner of 1000 Vallejo Street built this buiilding to protest the loss of northern and northwestern views from 1000 Vallejo Street by the building at 945 Green Street. The building is L-shaped and higher than 945 Green. It blocks the eastern and southeastern views of 945 Green. The best perspective to understand this is to view the back of 947 Green from the balustrade at 1020 Vallejo Street.
This is a beautiful building with many full-floor condominiums. Elevators open into elegant foyers. The ceilings are high, rooms are large, underlying details are exceptional, and the views are outstanding.
GREEN STREET STEPS
There are two ways to proceed with this walk from here.
The first is down the Green Street steps, left on Taylor Street to Macondray Lane, then left up the wooden stairs at Macondray Lane. This is a more rigorous route, but affords views of an elegant Queen Anne house at 1809 Taylor Street.
The less rigorous way to continue the walk is to retrace your path back to Jones Street. Turn right on Jones, then right on Macondray Lane, go to the steps at the Taylor Street end of Macondray Lane, then turn around and retrace your steps on Macondray back to Jones.
The text for this walk will follow the first path down the Green Street steps. Just after starting down the steps, notice a small gate leading to what appears to be a small Japanese-style cottage.
900 Green, Architect unknown, c.1989
As you proceed down the stairs you will see a new, undistinguished condominium building on the left. It replaced a complex of deteriorated shingle buildings, apartments, and houses that were built from 1895 to 1906 for Dr. J. Mora-Moss. The current building, with an entrance on Taylor Street, actually exceeded its building permit’s height limit. After considerable negotiation between the neighbors, builders, and The City, the only “fix” was to reduce the height of the elevator shaft. This building is the first and only building built after the 40-foot height limit was imposed in Russian Hill in 1971 to exceed that limit.
At the bottom of the steps, turn left onto Taylor Street.
1809 Taylor, “Luigi DeMartini House,” Architect: William Mooser, 1895
This house survived the fire of 1906 along with its near neighbor at 15-17 Macondray Lane. This Queen Anne-style house sits on a retaining wall over a steeply sloped street at the edge of Macondray Lane. The entrance on the left is below a gable while the right side has a turreted circular bay window. DeMartini, a successful Italian American confectioner’s supplier, was a close friend and supporter of A.P. Giannini in establishing the Bank of Italy (predecessor of Bank of America).
Sandwiched between Green and Union Streets and between Taylor and Leavenworth Streets, Macondray Lane is a secret find. The block between Jones and Taylor is most significant. Macondray Lane has long captured the hearts of San Franciscans and visitors for its woodsy enclave with charming cottages, interesting new buildings, and most special of all, gardens on the south side of the public path. As you traverse the lane you will find many different garden areas, yet they all seem to fit together. This was an early enclave for artists and writers including Ina Coolbrith and, for many years, some of the city’s leading newspapermen. In 1912, its name was changed from “Lincoln” to “Macondray” to honor pioneer San Francisco merchant Frederick W. Macondray. The informal landscaped gardens began early in the twentieth century.
In the late 1970s, Macondray Lane was memorialized as “Barbary Lane” in Armisted Maupin’s Tales of the City. Tales of the City included the story of one of the major characters, Mrs. Madrigal, chaining herself to the wooden Taylor Street stairs to prevent the City from replacing them with concrete steps. Perhaps just another incident of preservation in Russian Hill—fact, fiction, or both? At least the recently rebuilt stairs are wooden.
15-17 Macondray Lane, “Giuseppe Cadenasso Flats,” Architect unknown, c.1872-1892 depending on the historic resource
This is the sole Macondray Lane survivor of the 1906 fire—a very simple rectangular plan building with baroque garlands of plaster draped across each of its two front doors. One source suggests that this building was pre-built and shipped around the “Horn.” Its second owner, Cadenasso (resident from 1908-1918) was a major California landscape painter and taught in the art department at Mills College in Oakland. Important to note is that this house and the DeMartini house next door on Taylor Street are the furthest west homes of prominent Italians, who primarily settled in North Beach.