Back in 1906, an earthquake shack cost $50 to build (about $1,300, adjusted for inflation), rented for two dollars a month, and was usually yours to keep after two years.
Now, this historic shack at 1537 Cole Street — one of the last in the city, according to the ad — has listed for $1.38 million. That’s a nearly 2.76 million percent increase in value on the original $50 over the last 110 years. If it can just appreciate at that same rate for a couple more, it will become the most valuable piece of property in US history, and then presumably the biggest flip in history.
(Don’t hold your breath, though.)
It’s a one bedroom and 640-square-foot home, which comes out to $2,156 per square foot. By comparison, Peter Thiel’s five bedroom mansion in the Marina is listing for $1,314 a foot.
The old shack has obviously changed over the years, gaining more bricks, shingles, and windows to its facade than are evident in historic photographs of such constructs.
The interior is a bit haphazard, with some all-timber rooms that are positively stunning and others in need of TLC.
The parcel is fully four times bigger than the house at 2,500 feet, and presumably that’s where most of the asking price is going. Expanding the historic cottage into something bigger will surely fetch an even greater price tag down the line, although there’s something to be said for keeping the garden and its cobblestone path.
The city built 5,300 of these small emergency homes to house refugees for the winter of 1906 after the Great Quake, mostly in parks where the relief camps were set up. The few that still exist were hauled off to other neighborhoods by their eventual owners. The shacks rarely hit the market (this one last sold in 1973, for $37,000, about $200,000 after inflation), but one sold in the mission last October for approximately $400,000.
- Remembering Earthquake Shacks [Curbed SF]
- 1537 Cole Street [SFAR]
- Thiel Mansion Lands on Market [Curbed SF]
- Earthquake Relief Accommodations, 1906 [National Parks]
- What It Costs To Buy a Shack in SF [Market Watch]