My Neighborhood – St. Francis Wood

Last year the neighborhood celebrated it’s Centennial Year!

1912 – 2012

St. Francis Wood is located in the center of San Francisco on the south-western face of
the city’s highest peak, Mount Davidson.

It was heavily-forested land remote from downtown San Francisco, when the Mason-McDuffie Company sought in 1912 to create a residence park that embodied the highest ideals of early twentieth century landscaping and architecture.

Laid out by the Olmsted Brothers, St. Francis Wood attracted some of the Bay Area’s most accomplished architects including John Galen Howard, Louis Christian Mullgardt, Henry Gutterson, Gertrude Comfort, Masten and Hurd, and Julia Morgan.

St Francis Wood is one of the country’s most successful examples of a City Beautiful “garden suburb.”*

Back in the early 1900’s, city planners thought the St. Francis Wood area would be the “suburbs” of San Francisco, but located in the the city in a lush garden setting, they had no way of knowing the the city suburbs would eventually sprawl down the peninsula, the Pacific coastline, and way into the East Bay.

St. Francis Wood is filled with lush greenery, grand boulevards adorned with neoclassical monuments that cut through the city and connect a system of open spaces/parks; mature eucalyptus, bottlebrush, and cypress trees line the streets, and the entire area has breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Farrallon Islands.

Every home in St. Francis Wood is a gem; large or small – Spanish Mediterranean, English, French, or Greek Revival. Taking a walk through my neighborhood, I’m transported to the early 1900’s where stunning architecture and craftsmanship were practiced to perfection. I know I’m biased; there are plenty of beautiful neighborhoods in San Francisco, but St. Francis Wood is truly a jewel in the midst of the city.

*Source: St. Francis Homes Association

See my other posts for the beautiful St. Francis Wood neighborhood homes.











The Amazing Sutro Bath Ruins

Not many people are aware of the Suto Baths, but they were a magnificent display of wealth and architecture during the late 1800’s.

My family spent the entire day Saturday combing several beaches in the steady rain; but rain never stops us – many times we find our greatest treasures when we’re soaked through and through.

Our last stop was the Sutro Baths and the rain had finally let up to a heavy mist, so everything was bright green and beautiful!

The Sutro “baths” were created by Adolph Sutro on the rocky cliffs of San Francisco in 1896 and they were easily given the title of the world’s largest “indoor” swimming pools. A visitor to the baths could choose from seven different swimming pools; one fresh water pool and six salt water pools. The largest of the pools had to be monitored by life-guards utilizing a canoe.

But that’s not all Adolph Sutro had in store for his visitors; there was also a museum, a concert hall with seating for 8,000, and an ice skating rink – pretty impressive for 1896! From the photos, you can see how rough and untamed the Pacific is all around San Francisco. It was no different in 1896, so at high tide, water would flow directly into the pools from the ocean. Adolph had a powerful turbine pump built into the cave (photo below) so that during low tide he could fill the pools at 6,000 gallons per minute, completely recycling the pools in 5 hours!

Although The Sutro Baths facility struggled for years – predominantly due to the high cost of maintenance and upkeep, it remained at the site for many years until it burned to the ground in 1996; the ruins are now a part of the Golden Gate Park Services.

The final picture is an artist’s rendering of the Sutro Baths during their glory days, courtesy of the San Francisco Library.
















My Latest Obsession: The Westin St. Francis

The Westin St. Francis is a historic luxury hotel located on Powell and Geary Streets in Union Square in San Francisco. It’s an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful building that you just can’t take your eyes off of!

There’s a ton of history on the Westin St. Francis, including the infamous Fatty Arbuckle scandal with a young girl that eventually died under suspicious circumstances after spending the evening with Arbuckle. And, when doing my research, I found several stories about ghost encounters in the hotel; I’m not really a believer in ghosts, but you will see in the 1st photo, I did not remove the light “orbs” all around the building. I took about 80 photo’s of the city that evening, and the only photos with “orbs” in them were the ones taken of The Westin St. Francis! I took the time to remove them from the rest of the photos so you can concentrate on the beauty of the architecture; it’s absolutely stunning!!!

The two twelve-story south wings of the hotel were built in 1904, and the double-width north wing was completed in 1913, initially as apartments for permanent guests. The 32-story, 390 ft tower to the rear completed in 1972 features exterior glass elevators that offers panoramic views of the bay and the square below, making the St. Francis one of the largest hotels in the city, with more than 1,200 rooms and suites!












Burlingame Bungalow


Burlingame, CA is in the “peninsula” area of San Francisco – south of the city and in between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. It’s a safe and friendly community filled with beautiful homes from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, plentiful parks and huge eucalyptus trees. Burlingame also offers quaint shops filled with every modern convenience, fantastic restaurants, beautiful old churches, an adorable public library and an old mission style train station; all within walking distance for the majority of it’s residents! Combine all of that old world charm, add in an easy commute to the city, some of the top schools in the state, and you will get homes that sell for about $1,250 per sq ft!

Burlingame and it’s ultra exclusive neighbor, Hillsborough, are are just two small towns that make up the San Francisco peninsula. The peninsula is also where you’ll find Palo Alto (home of Stanford University), and a very small town with huge claim to fame: Atherton – it’s one of the wealthiest cities in the US. In fact, in September of 2010, Forbes magazine placed Atherton’s zip code of 94027 at #2 on its annual list of America’s most expensive zip codes, with a median home price of $4,010,200.

The peninsula offers an alternative to living in the city, or making the tedious commute across the Bay Bridge every day… All for a price, of course.

Oh No! Soap in the St Francis Wood Foutains!!

Back in the 1920’s and 30’s when San Francisco was still very young, the housing developers thought that the Saint Francis Wood area would be the suburbs; but its right in the city today! How could they have known that the city would grow to include the East Bay and Peninsula as the suburbs?  I’m not complaining; we have big streets, fountains, and yards, just like you would expect to see in the suburbs.  It’s too bad someone had to spoil the beautiful fountains this week, shame on you – whoever you are!