San Francisco Victorian & Edwardian Architecture

Victorian & Edwardian Architecture in San Francisco
An Illustrated Overview

One of the great charms of San Francisco is the wonderful variety of architectural styles that grace our streets – it’s not unusual to see half dozen distinct types of architecture on a single block. Here is a brief overview of the Victorian and Edwardian eras of home architecture with which the city is perhaps most identified – though, of course, many beautiful homes and buildings have been built since that era, and continue to be built.

The text, chart and photos are all courtesy and permission of the San Francisco architect James Dixon: James Dixon Website. We are most grateful for his generosity in allowing us to use them.

1Victorian-Edwardian Timeline
This is a fascinating timeline of the different styles of architecture that will be discussed in this piece, created by Architect James Dixon. It can be a little difficult to read, but is easier to decipher if you adjust your screen-view zoom larger. It can also be found online at James Dixon’s website.

2Gothic Revival: 1840 – 1890
The publication of Cottage Residences by Andrew Jackson Downing in 1842 became the spur for the Gothic Revival style in America. The residential offshoot, called Carpenter Gothic, used wood rather than stone and eschewed gargoyles and stained glass in favor of simpler ornament. Although some of the more extravagant homes may qualify as Gothic Revival, most can safely be called Carpenter Gothic. Characteristics of this style include pointed arches over doors and windows; steeply pitched roofs: turrets, pinnacles, crenellations; and leaded glass windows.

3Victorian Italianate: 1850 – 1890
In 1850, Andrew Jackson Downing published The Architecture of Country Houses. which popularized a new style: Italianate. The house at 807 Franklin is an elaborate example of the style, exhibiting many of the hallmark characteristics: quions along the edges; tall, narrow windows with rounded tops, porch portico, a slanted bay window, classical columns and pilasters, as well as the look of a building that should be made out of stone.
Additional Photos
 
 
 
4Victorian Stick: 1860 – 1890
These houses have long, thin pieces of wood, called “sticks,” applied to their surface, especially at corners. These sticks are meant to be both decorative and expressive of the underlying wood framed structure. In the 1870s these decorative elements became exceedingly numerous and elaborate. Homes in this new vein were called Stick Eastlake, which is actually a misnomer since Charles Eastlake, from whom the name derives, abhorred excessive ornamentation. San Francisco has the greatest concentration of Stick and Stick Eastlake style homes in the world.
More Photos
 
5Queen Anne: 1880 – 1910
The Queen Anne style came after many Victorian styles and it is not uncommon to see elements of preceding styles in one house. Two things make it easy to identify a Queen Anne: plasticity (“in-ness and out-ness”) and a continuous gable roof that is expressed at the street. Some houses that began as Italianate or Stick became Queen Anne after a remodel, and there are also some that are all three styles at once. The Victorians dreaded the vacant surface, everything was decorated. Characteristics include multi-textured facade; steeply pitched roof with gable front; conical, corner tower; cutaway bay windows; bands of ornament; and stained glass
More Photos

6Arts & Crafts: 1890 – 1910
Inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris, the Arts & Crafts movement started in England in the 1860s and started to influence American architecture around 1890. The movement advocated the use of locally sourced natural materials, pride in craftsmanship, and emulation of medieval design. Common characteristics include doorways and windows dressed with stone and brick; projecting eaves; intricate joinery; leaded-glass windows and square chimneys; Gothic ornaments and Tudor half-timbering
More Photos

8Shingle: 1880 – 1910
Ubiquitous shingle cladding is the defining feature of the Shingle Style. These houses vary widely in composition and historical affiliation, but are still readily identifiable as Shingle style. They minimized decorative elements due to the influence of the Arts and Crafts Style and aimed for informality and rusticity. These homes are a reaction to the design excesses of the Victorian period. San Francisco has many excellent examples of the Shingle style by some the best architects of that time: Bernard Maybeck, Ernest Coxhead, Julia Morgan, Willis Polk.
More Photos

9Tudor Revival: 1890 – 1940
Evocative of country homes from medieval England, Tudor Revival houses stand out in the urban context of San Francisco. This style is based on the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated a return to medieval building types and design. Characteristics include steeply pitched roof; decorative half-timbering; prominent cross-gables; mix of brick or stone with stucco or wood; and grouped, leaded windows with small panes.
Another Example of Tudor Revival

 
 
13Mission Revival: 1890 – 1920
All you need to do to identify a building in this style is look up. They always have a Mission-shaped parapet or window dormer, from which the name of the style derives. Although the Mission Revival style began around 1890, it did not become common until the start of the Edwardian period. San Francisco is no exception to the rule. Most of the Mission Revival homes and buildings were built after 1901.
More Examples

Craftsman_1Edwardian Craftsman: 1900 – 1930
In 1901, Gustav Stickley started a magazine called The Craftsman, for which the style is named. The magazine and some pioneering works by the Greene brothers quickly spread the style around the nation. Both Stickley and the Greene brothers were heavily influenced by the English Arts & Crafts movement. Craftsman homes tend to emphasize the horizontal, as in the bands of windows on the facades of these SF houses. Other characteristics include the use of native, natural construction materials; projecting eaves and exposed rafter ends; and casement windows, often with art glass.
Another Example

Spanish-Edwardian_1Spanish Eclectic & Revival
Spanish Revival homes look like they belong in Spain, while Spanish Colonial buildings are less refined and look like they belong in a Spanish colony. These homes freely mix elements of Spanish Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Mission Revival. Mediterranean Revival is another freely-mixed style that was popular with San Francisco builders. Thousands of Spanish Eclectic and Mediterranean Revival homes were built in the Marina District and Sunset. Characteristics include a low-pitched roof with little or no overhang; red roof tile; arches over front door and most prominent window; stucco walls; and the large bow front window over a garage.
Another Example

This link goes to architect James Dixon’s complete overview, which was the basis for this article. It features short videos on each of the different Victorian and Edwardian styles mentioned above. Also included is a link to his overview of subsequent styles of San Francisco architecture:

James Dixon on San Francisco Victorian and Edwardian Architecture

James Dixon on San Francisco Architecture 1920 to Present

And for those who find San Francisco history as interesting as we do, here are two other websites we’ve discovered filled with fascinating stories and photographs:

FoundSF: History, Stories & Images

OldSF: San Francisco Photos, 1850 – 2000

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1635 Lombard Street


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Charts: Hayes Valley-NoPa; Richmond District; Inner Mission

Hayes Valley, NoPa, Alamo Square Condos

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Inner & Central Richmond Houses

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Richmond District Condos

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Inner Mission Condos

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Updated: St. Francis Wood, Midtown Terr, Miraloma Park

St. Francis Wood Houses

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Midtown Terrace Houses

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Miraloma Park Houses

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5 White-Hot Districts in a Red-Hot SF Market

5 White-Hot Districts in a Red-Hot San Francisco Market

July 2013 Report

Virtually every area of San Francisco and the Bay Area has been experiencing dramatic home-value appreciation in the past 12 to 18 months. Some that were hard hit by distressed property sales, which experienced the largest price declines, have surged in price but remain 20% – 30% below previous peak values reached in 2006 – 2008. As a state, California is still about 25% below its 2007 pre-crash median home price. And in San Francisco itself, many if not most neighborhoods now appear to have re-attained or moved slightly beyond previous high points.

But in this past quarter, a handful of neighborhoods and districts in the city have leapt well beyond the highest average home values achieved in the past. Interestingly, comparing these white-hot areas with one another, there are often huge differences in property type, era and style of construction, and neighborhood culture or ambiance. But all of them have been very affected by affluent – often newly affluent – high-tech professionals of one age group and level of affluence or another. Naturally, these neighborhoods are highly desired by other buyers too – often professionals in finance, bio-tech, medicine and law – but the high-tech-buyer dynamic has generally super-charged these markets in particular.

However, please note that the difference we’re talking about between these neighborhoods and the rest of the city is between white hot and red hot: Honestly, they’re all very hot markets right now.

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2The Inner Mission
Super hot, super hip, generally young: this neighborhood has seen very dramatic changes since the early nineties as a classic process of gentrification occurred — changes which have recently accelerated. Houses here are often large, classic Victorians, while the condos are mostly modern, built within the last decade or so. This area has a large, vibrant and diverse commercial district centered around Mission and Valencia Streets, but is still close to Noe Valley and the Castro. This chart focuses on the condo market, in which values are approximately 15% above the previous peak.

This link goes to the numbers table behind this graph:
Inner Mission Numbers Table

3Noe Valley – Eureka Valley (Castro) – Dolores Heights
These neighborhoods are part of a district that includes Cole Valley, Ashbury Heights, Clarendon & Corona Heights, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores and Glen Park, all of which have seen enormous recent appreciation. Housing here is typically older, built in the first 4 decades of the last century; there are many parks for kids and pets; the streets are tree-lined and the ambiance of the neighborhoods is relaxed and family friendly. This district surged in popularity and price in the mid-late nineties, was one of the last to peak in value in 2008, and has been at the forefront of the market rebound which started early here, in 2011. Among other advantages, it has relatively easy access to highways south to Silicon Valley. The district also has a large condo market, but this chart focuses on house values.
Numbers Table

4South Beach & Yerba Buena
After the Embarcadero freeway came down in 1991 and then AT&T Park built in 2000, this area changed from a place for B and C-class offices and car stereo installations to the home of some of the most dramatic and expensive condo and loft buildings in the country. More condos are now sold here than anyplace else in the city and high-floor units with staggering views often sell for millions of dollars – one sold for $28 million. It’s popular with a number of demographics – high-tech and bio-tech workers working in offices nearby in SoMa and Mission Bay, financial district professionals, and empty-nesters who want to enjoy city life and have all the amenities, but without the responsibility of maintaining a house. Affluent foreign buyers are also a significant segment. Its neighborhood ambiance is very urban. This chart is for condos below the price of $1,800,000, but the dynamic for ultra-luxury condos is also white hot, with an average dollar per square foot value of over $1200.
Numbers Table

5Bernal Heights
Like Noe Valley and Glen Park, this was originally a blue-collar neighborhood filled with Victorian houses. Noe Valley soared in value first, becoming wildly popular, and now people who want a similar family-friendly neighborhood ambiance, but at a more affordable cost, have increasingly turned to Bernal Heights. It also has easy access to highways south to the peninsula.
Numbers Table

6Hayes Valley-North of Panhandle (NoPa)-Alamo Square
This condo market is made up of two totally different types of property: Edwardian flats that have been turned into condos and brand new, ultra-modern condo developments. The Hayes Valley commercial district is very hot and hip, similar to, but still different from the Mission’s Valencia Street. Buyers who are priced out of the nearby Cole Valley-Haight Ashbury condo market often look here for a similar neighborhood ambiance at lower cost. Hayes Valley is also close to the Civic Center cultural cluster of museum, opera, symphony, ballet and other performing arts, which attracts another buyer demographic as well.

If you have questions or would like information regarding a neighborhood not listed above,
please call or email.

Link to Statistical Term Definitions

Statistics are generalities which usually mask large disparities in the underlying individual sales: they are best used as indicators of longer term trends. Average and median statistics are often affected by factors besides changes in value – buyer profile, inventory available to purchase, significant changes in the distressed or luxury home segments – and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Only a certain percentage of sales report square footage: average dollar per square foot values and average size are based on those that do. However average sales price is based upon all sales, thus there may be inconsistencies between the three statistics. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision. Numbers should be considered approximate.

From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group

1543127

198 Chimney Rock
Stateline, NV 89449
Offered at $948,500

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Updated Charts: Potrero & Bernal

Potrero Hill Houses: another challenging place for statistics because of the low number of sales and the variety of houses that do sell. Median and average prices jump all over the place, but there’s a relatively clear, consistent story for dollar per square foot.

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Bernal Heights Houses

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Updated: North End/ Lake Street & Jordan Park/ Russian Hill

A few more updated charts: District 7/North Side, Lake Street/Jordan Park, Russian Hill, Lone Mountain:

Prestige Northern Neighborhoods: House Sales, $1.5m – $10m

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District 7 Condos

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Lake Street/ Jordan Park & Laurel Heights: these neighborhoods are tough for statistics because there aren’t that many sales and many of them don’t give square footage, but still the trend line is clear.

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Russian Hill Condos

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Lone Mountain SFD – there is the issue here of a very limited number of sales to generate reliable statistics.

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2nd Quarter North Bay Market Report

2nd Quarter North Bay Real Estate Market Report

Home Prices and Luxury Home Sales Way Up

For Marin, Napa & Sonoma Counties

Another very strong quarter in the North Bay real estate market: Year over year, the median house sales price in the second quarter was up 25% in Marin and Sonoma, and 34% in Napa. Though there are a number of dynamics behind the rise in median price, including the large decrease in distressed property sales and large increase in luxury home sales, home values have clearly been rapidly appreciating over the past year, and especially in 2013, as buyer demand soared and inventory stayed low.

We have updated our home value maps to reflect spring’s recent sales. The North Bay map is just below the 2 San Francisco maps:
San Francisco Mapped Neighborhood Values

1North Bay Luxury Home Sales
In this chart, luxury houses are defined, rather arbitrarily, as those selling for $1,500,000 and above: Sales of such homes surged in the second quarter, just as they have around the Bay Area. North Bay high-end sales are concentrated in Marin, but Napa and Sonoma also have significant luxury home segments.

Distressed Home Sales: this link shows the opposite trend for distressed property sales in the North Bay: though rapidly dwindling, these sales still make up significant percentages of the Napa and Sonoma markets:
North Bay Distressed Home Sales

2North Bay Market Snapshot
79% of second quarter sales sold quickly without price reductions at an overall average of 1% over list price. 21% of sales sold after one or more price reductions at an average discount to original list price of 10%. And some listings didn’t sell at all, but ended up withdrawn from the market, typically due to being perceived as overpriced. Note the huge disparity in average days on market for those homes selling with and without price reductions: Pricing correctly makes a huge difference in market response.

3Trends in Average Dollar per Square Foot Values
As with median sales prices, the trajectory in dollar per square foot values has been significantly upward over the past year. Note also that Sonoma has far more house sales than Marin and Napa combined. As a point of comparison, last quarter in San Francisco, there were 720 house sales, the median price was $996,000 and the average dollar per square foot value was $687. The city’s recovery started somewhat earlier than most other counties in the Bay Area, and its overall median sales price has now exceeded previous peak values in 2007-2008. Marin is approaching the same threshold, with the other 2 counties’ median prices, much harder hit by distressed home sales, still distinctly below peak values.

4Interest Rates: The Sky Is Not Falling
Not to diminish legitimate concerns regarding rising mortgage rates and their effects on housing costs, but this graph puts recent increases in context. At any time before 2011, the current interest rates, even after their recent big percentage jump, would be reason for conga lines of celebration in the streets. Rates had to rise from their historic and artificial lows – how far and fast this may continue is unknown to us, but we don’t presently expect big shocks to the real estate market in the near future.

5Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)
Inventory began to creep up in the second quarter, but supply as compared to demand remains very low by any historical measure. This, of course, is the major dynamic behind rising home values.

And this link goes to a chart that tracks the actual unit inventory of homes listed and available for sale by month: as can be seen, units for sale remain far, far below levels of previous years:
Homes for Sale

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259 Lexington Street


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