Victorian Style in San Francisco

     No other city is as famed for it's distinctive Victorian era architecture than San Francisco.

The Edward Coleman house at Franklin and California
is a fine example of Queen Anne style.
   “Victorian” refers to the time period during the reign of the Britain's Queen Victoria, which began in 1837 and ended with her death in 1901. 

    There are three styles of Victorian-era architecture in San Francisco.  The Italianate style was popular in the 1870s, moving to the Stick style the 1880s and finishing with the Queen Anne style in the 1890s.  There is probably no better place in San Francisco to see examples of all three Victorian styles than in the Western Addition / Pacific Heights neighborhood.
   The area west of Van Ness Avenue, around Lafayette Park and Alta Plaza,  was one of the city's first affluent suburbs.  By 1900,  the neighborhood was a mix of large homes owned by wealthy families along California and Van Ness and attached row houses built to accommodate the city's fast-growing middle class.

Slanted Bay Italianates on Valencia in the Mission.
     Victorian-era  homes originally offered all of the modern amenities and conveniences of their time --  double parlors, formal dining rooms, gas and electric lighting, and indoor plumbing. Today, many have been remodeled to add garages, larger kitchens and updated bathrooms.

   The Western Addition neighborhood mostly survived the  1906 Earthquake.  The fires were stopped on Van Ness Avenue.  The real threat to the neighborhood came much later  in the 1970s when urban redevelopment efforts destroyed about  50 blocks of Victorians around Geary Boulevard to make room for newly-built affordable housing.

   Today, there are more than 13,000 Victorian homes remaining in San Francisco. Half have fallen victim to “improvements” that left them stripped of ornamentation, or worse, covered in stucco. But there are still thousands of fine examples of San Francisco Victorians, many beautifully restored, for us to enjoy.


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