Almost every renovation of a classic San Francisco house (in this case a circa 1900 or so Queen Anne at 1304 Masonic asking $2.95 million) claims that it’s kept the period details intact. After all, what else are they going to say? A minimal degree of skepticism is prudent.
Still, we have to hand it to the couple who shepherded the rebirth of this Masonic Avenue house (actually a duplex that includes a third unit by way of an in-law): They not only restored the house’s gas lamps, but the lamps are even still functional.
If that’s how they’re going to play it, our skepticism is in for a beating.
The house was originally designed by California-born architect Adolph Lutgen for wealthy turn-of-the-century furniture maker and upholsterer Charles Fredericks, a few years before Fredericks decamped for LA. He just beat the 1906 earthquake out of town, which we imagine made him feel like the smartest guy in the world at the time.
That quake unfortunately destroyed most of architect Lutgen’s work in the city, and he’s now most noted for his Sonoma projects (including Sonoma City Hall). But a few of his San Francisco prizes escaped the wrath of the San Andreas, the Masonic Avenue house among them.
If natural disasters are the biggest threat to early 20th century San Francisco architecture, then human-made disasters by way of reckless remodels are a close second. In this case, Scandinavian firm Mork Ulnes took on the job. So other than the gas lamps, how did they do place do?
Well, it’s gorgeous, no doubt about that—and the pocket doors, brick chimney in the kitchen, claw tub in the bathroom, and side-by-side parlors buy an awful lot of goodwill too. Mork Ulnes flexes its muscles in some of the new additions, like the extreme-angle skylights in the upper floors.
The whole affair is now four bedrooms and two baths. And one of those new baths is a nice contemporary touch, housed inside the Queen Anne turret, with polished concrete and more brick peeking out of the walls. If you’re in the habit of singing in the tub, this perch looks like it has great acoustics.
The in-law and smaller second unit are both presently renter occupied. The house last sold for roughly half the price ($1.43 million) in 2010.
- 1304 Masonic [Sothebys]
- Adolph Lutgen [Homes Connect]
- Lutgens buildings [PCAD]
- Classic Craftsman Restored [Chronicle]
- American Upholstery Journal, 1905 [Google Books]