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SAN FRANCISCO’s BEST ●Attractions●Historical Sites

historical houses

          San Francisco is known for its abundance of beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian houses.  At last count there were more than 14,000.  One of the pleasures of living here is visiting people who actually reside in them.  Visitors to the city interested in capturing a taste of that delight can visit two historic homes that are open to the public. 

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          To see some of the city’s “painted ladies,” as the many colorfully painted Victorian homes sometimes are called, visit the area around Alamo Square at Hayes and Steiner streets.  Nicknamed “Postcard Row,” 710 to 720 Steiner holds six Queen Anne Victorians known as the Six Sisters and is often photographed commercially from the top of the park with the skyline in the distance.  “Postcard Row” appears in the opening credits of TV’s Full House.  Another good area is along the Golden Gate Park Panhandle, particularly on the Fell Street side, where well-maintained mansions are plentiful.  (It is interesting to note that the Panhandle was originally the carriage entrance to the park and that it holds approximately 50 species of the park’s oldest trees.) 
          And, of course, everyone wants to see the house used in exterior scenes for the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.  Check it out in Pacific Heights at 2640 Steiner Street.  Interior scenes were filmed in a studio so there is no need to peek in windows.

More houses in film:
2307 Broadway
, the Jessica McClintock mansion; formerly Francis Ford Coppola’s home
2311 Broadway, Party of Five house
1709 Broderick Street, Full House and Fuller House TV shows; is owned by the sitcom’s creator, producer Jeff Franklin
1360 Montgomery Street, where both Dark Passage (1947) and Nine Months (1995) were filmed 
722 Steiner Street, Arnold Schwarzenegger was pregnant here in Junior (1994)
          1552 Hyde Street, Arnold also lived at this more masculine address
2930 Vallejo Street, where Sharon Stone’s character lived in Basic Instinct (1992) 

Houses you can tour:
The David Ireland House  500 Capp St./20th St., Mission District.

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image courtesy of Haas-Lilienthal House
Haas-Lilienthal House  2007 Franklin St./Jackson St., Pacific Heights.  Fee.  In 1886 architect Peter R. Schmidt built this 24-room, 7-bathroom Queen Anne Victorian home of oak and redwood for Bertha and William Haas, a mercantile grocer.  It has turrets and peaked roofs and a 3-story-tall brick chimney, and it cost $18,500 (average homes then cost about $2,000).   The house survived the infamous 1906 earthquake relatively unscathed, with a small bulge in the plaster the only visible damage.  It also escaped the fire that followed, though Mr. Haas’s downtown offices were destroyed.  Family members occupied the house until 1972.  Most of the furnishings are original to the house, including a lovely and extensive set of matching art nouveau pieces in the main bedroom.  Children often find the doll house in the second-floor nursery especially interesting. 
Pacific Heights Walking Tour of the surrounding neighborhood focuses on the exteriors of some of San Francisco’s finest Victorian and Edwardian homes.

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Octagon House  2645 Gough St./Union St., Cow Hollow.  By donation.  Built in 1861, when this architectural style was a fad throughout the country, this 2-story, cupola-topped eight-sided house is now one of only two left in San Francisco.  The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in California bought it from PG&E in 1952 for $1 and moved it from across the way on Gough Street to this location.  The society has restored and furnished it and turned it into the only museum of Colonial and Federal decorative arts on the West Coast.  Items displayed date from 1700 to 1830.  Of special interest is a display featuring the signatures of 55 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The house’s well-groomed garden and the tiny, fenced-in  Allyne Park located adjacent are both perfect for a stroll.

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