The four simple Russian Hill homes known as the Filbert Cottages pull an awful lot of water with San Francisco preservationists despite their humble origins.
As Noe Hill notes in its landmark profile of the structures, “They were built just after the 1906 earthquake, [when] the high demand for housing was met by skilled craftsmen-builders rather than known architects.”
Even though they were simple affairs, “vernacular cottages [...] characterized by rusticity, simplicity, [and] minimal embellishment” presaged the craftsman style of architecture to come in the 20th century.
To Russian Hill boosters lobbying for their preservation in 2003, the cottages represented “a different era in San Francisco, when a working-class citizen could still afford a house on Russian Hill.”
The cottages eventually garnered landmark status—apparently more than once, as the developer notes that the city landmarked the homes in 2001 but arguments still swirled around them years later—but they also needed rehab because of their rundown state, a process that took years as well as a lawsuit.
Back in 2010, Curbed SF referred to some of the first overhaul designs for the Filbert Cottages as “returning [them] to their old glory on steroids.” Now that the work is done and the resulting homes for sale—1338 Filbert, #D now asks more than $4.49 million for three beds and three and a half baths—it’s time to compare expectations to results.
From the outside little has changed, except of course that everything is looking considerably less worse for wear and the obstructing fence has gone.
“Alterations on exteriors of homes like this are heavily restricted” thanks to their historic value, realtor Nina Hatavny tells Curbed SF.
“One enters enters the Cottages from the street through a private restored garden with brick walkway,” according to the new ad, which plays up creative uses of historic features like “the wall separating the kitchen and dining [that] incorporates the original redwood slat siding of the cottage.”
(Even the old window is still there.)
On the other hand, elements like the “glass-tiled bathroom” and its “mixture of stone textures and designers touches” appears distinctly and unabashedly modern. Buttrick Projects Architecture + Design spearheaded the remake.
Is it history in the making or history unmade? The public will decide, but in the meantime we get an uninterrupted view of the cottage exteriors for the first time in over a decade, which is a minor landmark in itself.