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Old-Timey Newspaper Baron's Cottage Now Worth $5.8 Million

Built in 1890 as a publicity stunt, cottage eventually grew into a swanky 5-bedroom house

San Francisco began as a few humble shacks in the wilderness near the mission and shortly grew into the weird and wild city we know today.

The fancy-pants five bedroom, 4.5 bath, 4,610-square-foot Presidio Avenue house that went back on the market for $5.8 million has even more humble and unlikely roots: It was once a mere cottage, built by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst as a publicity giveaway.

In 1890, Hearst built a little place on Presidio Avenue and promised to gift it to whomever could guess the population of San Francisco in that year’s census. Just another of his showman-style publicity blitzes to drum up circulation.

The house at 224 Presidio Avenue did exactly what the rest of the city did since 1890: grew, a whole lot. Now it’s a seven-figure beauty straddling the very cushy line between Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights, less than three blocks from the Presidio itself.

It last sold in 2012 for $3.6 million after being off the market for nearly 20 years. It’s next most recent sale was in 1993 for (brace yourself) $787,500, the equivalent of about $1.3 million today when adjusted for inflation.

Looking at it now, you wouldn’t believe how she’s grown since the days of the Harrison administration: The former cottage now sports bay windows, a spa bath, a wine room, a four-car garage, an elevator, and knockout views of a whole lot of things that didn’t exist 126 years ago.

The mostly white-on-white interiors aren’t going to win any prizes for originality, but little touches like the small brick patio and the latticed front door give it integrity befitting its status as one of our senior most homes.