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Abandoned Historic Presidio Heights Versailles-Style Mansion Finally Sells

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No, sadly, Taylor Swift wasn't the buyer

After four long years, someone has bought the lustrous but embattled mansion at 3800 Washington Street. Thus ends one of the longest and strangest listing dramas in San Francisco history.

This 14-bed, 11-bath, 20,500-square-foot property circa 1904 (measurements include the guest house) closed a $15.75 million sale on Thursday.

That’s a loss of more than $2 million off its $18 million sale in 2007. The losses creep up to more than $4 million if you adjust for inflation. But that misfortune is a mere footnote in this house’s weird and wild history.

Back in 2012, the property (a registered national landmark) set its sights on finding a $25 million buyer. Over the years, the price tag dipped as low as $12.5 million in the quest for a sale. And the neverending parade of price cuts was only one part of this nonstop sideshow.

There were also the tribulations of owner Halsey Minor, founder of CNET, and his many (losing) legal gambits against the likes of Sotheby's and Christie's.

Then, a local squatter turned the historic property into his personal mansion, stealing and selling seemingly anything that would fit through the front door.

At one point there was the fleeting, hallucinatory rumor that none other than Taylor Swift was in the market for the great old house in 2014, at the time selling for a list price of nearly $18 million.

There were fake-out near sales, multiple designations as an abandoned structure, feints at dividing the property, and constant anxiety over how its historic value could be preserved throughout this property purgatory.

And through it all, there was the house itself, modeled on Louis XV’s 18th century chateau at Versailles. Even with chunks falling out of the ceiling and millions falling off of its price tag every month, it consistently remained one of the city’s most expensive listings, and one of its most fascinating assets.

3800 Washington is sometimes called the Koshland House, after original owner Marcus Koshland, a man who made his fortune in wool. For an idea of precisely how much wool we’re talking about here, just look at the house.

The saints only know what the future has in store for the old place next. But at least we can finally pen a happy ending for this long, long, long chapter in its tumultuous life.


Architecture that comes to life in Game of Thrones