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Local Landmark #60: Albion Castle in Hunters Point

Welcome to The Landmarks, where Curbed takes a look at one of the many San Francisco landmarks, listed either locally or on the National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks will be chosen at random, but do drop us a line if you'd like to see a certain landmark highlighted

When it hit the market in 2009, Curbed became borderline obsessed with the Albion Castle in Hunters Point—the old home of the Albion Ale and Porter Brewery. The castle finally sold after two years and many price chops, but since 1973 it has been Local Landmark #60.

Back when San Francisco was getting its start, the area of Hunters Point was considered part of the newly surveyed and plotted South San Francisco. A lodging house was constructed for prospective lot buyers, located near a fresh spring. The new city was supposed to rival SF, but never really materialized and was soon incorporated into SF. The Hunter brothers settled down in the area, and ended up selling water rights to the city.

The Albion Ale and Porter Brewery was founded in 1870 by John Burnell. Born in England, he wanted to create beers comparable to the ones in his homeland. He determined that a supply of fresh water was necessary to make beer in the English style, so he located his brewery over the fresh springs. Tunnels were cut into the hillside to store the beer, and the brewery was built to look like a Norman castle. Burnell imported the hops from Scotland and casks and bottles from England.

The brewery ran until 1919 when Burnell's widow died and the business closed. The property sat vacant and deteriorating until 1938, when it was purchased by sculptor Adrien Voisin. He restored the brewery building to use as his residence and studio. In 1964, the San Francisco Mountain Springs Water Co. bought the property for the springs, allowing Voisin to live there for the remainder of his life. The Albion Castle was listed as a local landmark in 1973.

In 2005, the then-owners, local brewers from Napa county, got approvals to re-establish the brewery use. Although they made some renovations to the property and the castle, the brewery never really materialized.

Four years later, the property hit the market as a 4-bed, 2-bath for a mind-bending $2.95M. It sat for a while, suffering through a few price chops, eventually selling in 2011 for $820,000. No word if the new owner plans to revive the brewery business.

· San Francisco Landmark $60 [SF Planning]
· Previous Coverage of the Albion Castle [Curbed SF]
· 881 Innes Avenue, The Albion Brewery [SF Planning]
· Albion Castle [Atlas Obscura]
· Albion Castle – San Franciscans, their Beers, and the Story of One Brewery [SF City Guides]