Highlights and Memories of 1200 Lombard Block

In 1849-50 The 1200 Lombard blocks bordered the San Francisco city limits on the west. What was renamed San Francisco in 1847 after Sam Brannan's 240 Mormon brigade doubled the populace in July 1846 had been Yerba Buena. It had been named by George Vancouver in 1792, when he anchored at a cove a league East of Presidio. Yerba Buena pueblo dated from Mexican government established in 1830's. That land was surveyed in 1847 by Jasper O'Farrell and in 1849 by City Surveyor William Eddy. The land was divided into blocks and streets, each block with six lots. These were granted by civic authorities to private parties for a nominal fee.

Western Addition

When the San Francisco limits were expanded west to Divisidero in 1850-1 as Western Addition, they also encompassed today's Marina and Pacific Heights. By 1850 these lands had largely been claimed by settlers or squatters under the provisions of the Federal Pre-emption Act of 1841, which applied after California statehood in 1848. It seems that 160 acres was considered the legal limit for each squatter-settler, but the acquisition process in San Francisco was disorderly, with many overlapping and conflicting claims that clogged courts for years.

1857 Topo and Road Map S Black Point to Hayes Valley, ...............................................Pre 1850 SF Streams and Lakes, 1900 Roads and Landfill

In an attempt to define ownership in Western Addition and bring stability to buying and selling real estate, as well as reserve land for streets, parks and schools, the Van Ness Ordinance of 1855 was passed. Those living in Western Addition were recognized as legal owners, despite ratification of some notorious frauds. The 1200 Lombard blocks were part of the Lagoon survey of 1847, made because the land was fertile and City wanted to grant it to private owners. North of survey was Sparks Shannon claim surveyed in 1851 and to south lay John D. Stevenson's pre-emption claim. The 1200 Lombard blocks were also part of Shannon Sparks claim and divided by surveyor Marlette into eight lots per block with an alley running east-west.

Sparks Street eventually became Polk and Marquette was renamed later to Van Ness. A new survey in 1856 for the Van Ness Ordinance added lands for city parks and schools, as well as widened Van Ness. Much of Sparks and Shannon land was sold to speculators by 1853. The south 1200 Lombard block was sold in two transactions, one to Samuel Hort and other to G. Frank Smith. By late 1860's, entire block was owned by liquor wholesaler Anson Hotaling, who sold it in 1869 to William Hamilton, who may have been of Baker & Hamilton firm, founded in 1849 in San Francisco.

South Side 1200 Lombard Block

The 1200 Lombard and surrounding blocks were separated from downtown by Russian Hill and had steep slopes to west where building was difficult. It would be decades before many of streets were graded and paved. Some still chose to live there because land was inexpensive and available in large parcels. In the 1850-60's thirty modest dwellings of blue color families were built in ten blocks bounded by Larkin, Van Ness, Filbert and Bay. John McGovern in 1850's built at northwest corner of Polk-Lombard to grow produce and expanded to a milk ranch through 1880's. Thomas Farley raised cows and pigs on Chestnut west of Polk. And 1268 Lombard dates from 1861, a home for laborer Robert Price, until it was taken down for four units in 2009. At top of block, a building stood on northwest corner from 1857. Across Lombard to south were two houses, which had several ship carpenter as well as small business and a brickyard owner.

1860's Russian Hill looking NW, ...........................1856 Western Addition Map, Water Route,............ 1268 Lombard 1861 before 1890's Lombard grading

Horse and Cable Car Lines

In 1874, a horse car line owned by Andrew Hallidie's Clay St. Hill railroad, was opened as a branch which ran Clay and Leavenworth north and west to Union and Larkin before continuing north to Chestnut. Tickets were 5 cents and transfer to cable car downtown was at Clay. It stimulated building, but was slow and unreliable. It was mooted by Pacific and Ferries line from Montgomery to Steiner via Columbus and Union from 1880 until powerhouse was destroyed in 1906. But the horse and cable car lines raised land values and Hamilton sold most of the block in 25' wide lots, those on Larkin for $1,250, while lots on steep Lombard slope went for $450-$750. Buyers were mostly laborers who built homes to live in.

1876+Expanded 1249,51, Original 1261,65 Lombard,........ 1891 San Francisco Cable Car Lines, Larkin horsecar gone,............1279 Lombard (moved from N Polk end?)

A burst of building in 1876-8 included a dozen homes and 2501 Larkin grocery on our block. Three remain at 2531 Larkin, our 1265 Lombard Italianate cottage and our uphill 1261 neighbor. Since Lombard wasn't graded until the 1890's, the cottages were built at rear of lots behind steep cliff and accessed from mid-block alley path running west down ridge from Larkin. In the 1880's more homes were built, including multiple units on some lots as City land values and population rose. By 1905, 35 living units on 27 lots had been built on our block. As Charles Tidd, Henry Inwood, John Ambrose and David Brown were carpenters, they built their own homes, as well as a few for neighbors.

1263-67 and Neighbors

Our 1263-67 and adjacent properties were among the first to build after the 1876 lot sales by Hamilton. Unlike 1268 Lombard, none fronted on Lombard, but rather on the steep ridge at the rear of the lots. Since Lombard hadn't been graded, 1268 Lombard always appeared to have sunken below street level. Harry Bailey, a house painter from England who worked for John Brewster on Belden Place, bought 1263-67 in 1876. He had our 1265 cottage built at beginning of 1877 and lived there with his wife Hannah and their two children until 1884, when he sold to Thomas Ennor, another Englishman, who lived in cottage with his Irish wife Ellen until 1912. Bailey moved up hill to 1245.

1899 Sanborn Maps for VanNess - Francisco - Larrkin - Filbert Blocks with mostly nurseries, gardens, Cow Hollow grazing lands W of Polk to Presidio

Our uphill neighbor at 1257-61 was John Ambrose, an English carpenter, who probably built his home in 1876, the same time his uphill neighbor, carpenter Henry Inwood was building his home, which much later grew upward to 1249-51 today. Downhill and adjacent to our cottage, another English carpenter, David Brown built a cottage that was extended forward and updated in 1977-80, before being taken down in 2011 as part of completion of recent 1269 Lombard Villas.

 

1870 Polk Filbert SW,....................1857 Greenwich Larkin looking NW past Washerwoman's Lagoon,...................1899 Chestnut Polk W

Moving to the next downhill neighbor at 1271-79, complexity sets in. The original front unit, whose exterior was preserved as part of 1998 Planning Dept. pact, was almost certainly moved there from it's original location around the corner at 2614 Polk where Rene Peinado finally filled the vacancy in 1998. It may have been set above a studio that lasted until 1998. The 1994-5 grading of Greenwich, Polk and Lombard would have cut it's Polk access, as Polk was lowered to allow passage north. That left 2614 and several other homes facing Polk, but suspended above 80' cliff, just as neighbor cottages east to Larkin. 2614 Polk (80 ft. S of Lombard) was originally built in 1877 by another carpenter, Charles Tidd, from Maine via Illinois who arrived in San Francisco in 1868. He lived there with wife Caroline and daughter Matilda. He also built his neighbor Nelson Hawks home at 2612 Polk.

1894 Polk St. Cut Work Below Lombard Ridge homes to E, .......................1894-1980's Polk Greenwich condominiums view NE from Polk and Greenwich

Getting back to 1271-79, it was bought by an English house painter, Michael Maunder, who moved to the US in 1864 and to San Francisco in 1871. He bought 1271-79 in 1876 and built a 15' wide one story plus raised basement at rear. Both his and lot adjacent to ours extended only 112' deep, rather than uphill 137' depths. That was due to depth of 2612 and 2614 lots from Polk, which by time of fire in 1898 had additional units. The fire may have been caused by fireworks, but destroyed Hawks, Tidd and Maunder residences. The Tidd and Hawks property residences were never rebuilt, but Tidd's main residence was probably already on front of Maunder property, facing Lombard rather than Polk. The sketches of these homes from SF newspaper articles on the loss of the owners due to the Polk cut that left there properties nearly worthless due to severed access also highlighted that their property taxes were increased to pay for Polk excavation.

 

1894 Hearings on Polk St Cut 1899 Sanborn Map indicates 1898 Fire damage, destruction 1894 Resolution of Polk Cut Costs

1898 and 1906 Fires and New Building

It is ironic that the 1898 fire destroyed homes on our block, while the enormous conflagration of 1906 after the earthquake did not. This was largely due to the mobilization of neighbors to fight flaming faggots, blown in firestorm from adjacent blocks with blankets soaked in wine or vinegar, from Larkin-Lombard corner store. this action kept rooftops from igniting. Evidently, reservoir east of Larkin had already been drained for earlier firefighting or was inoperable when needed. We can see the evidence of the 1898 fire on property drawings of 1263-79 I got when I purchased in 1975. Stone staircases behind 1279 and 1269 descending to what would have been Tibb or Hawk homes before the fire. At the southwest corner of our cottage, the 'Being refinished after fire' plan notation was confirmed when we reshingled west wall of cottage in 2012. Shortly before, during building of retaining piers under west wall of cottage, we unearthed J.F. Cutter whisky bottle with E. Martin & Co. San Francisco also embellished. That firm existed in San Francisco only from 1865-1919.

1906 Fire Containment on Russian Hill,....1894 Lombard Ridge after Polk Cut. Top(r) W of Polk,.......... 1906 Broadway SW after Fire to Vallejo Crest

Returning to Thomas Ennor, the 2nd owner of 1263-67, Ennor had expanded his professional horizons from owner of Market St. saloons to newspaper carrier and miner. In 1908 he hired contractor N.A. Trubeck to build these flats to designs by architects Wright, Rushforth and Cahill. That Cahill was not related to the Tibbs daughter who married a Cahill and whose wedding glass pane etched with 'Ellie Cahill, October 6, 1879' discovered under 1271-79 in 1964. It also not related to our friend Sally Leahy McGivern who gave pen and ink drawing of 1263-67 as housewarming party gift to me in 1975 and who is in-law of Cahill firm still prominent builders in Bay Area today.

The west window of 1263-67 Lombard between the two metal entry gates is now a space to reflect on our neighborhood past. The window loss was a threat ever since two downhill properties once again came under common ownership in 1997, as they had been along with 1263-67 from 1920's to 1975. That and other highlights are described in 'Tales of 1200 Lombard' written shortly after I purchased 1263-67 in 1975. Why it is appropriate in that place is that in 1892 our original uphill neighbor John Ambrose sold to Thomas Murray, a ship steward and seaman and carpenter from 1906. In 1905 Murray hired Ludwig Koenig to build the set of front flats designed by C.A. Meussdorffer, who had designed 1376-92 and 1351-61 McAlister around Alamo Square and went on to do many including 2500 Steiner, St. Regis in Lafayette Park and 2000, 2006 Washington as well as 2135 and 2205 Sacramento around the park along with other Pacific height grande dames and Family Club. In 1908 Ennor front flats 1263-67 blocked all the Meussdorffer west windows and open space, a fate 1263-67 faced once common ownership of 1269-79 rescinded easements in 1979. Plans were submitted to do just that, but Planning Commission and neighbors fought back. This virtual display was only west opening to terraced gardens sealed off by new 1269 Lombard.

1263-79 Integration and Continuity

When the Tidd house was moved to front of Maunder 1271-79 Lombard lot after the Polk excavation left it suspended 80 feet above it's street access, 14' gap between his building was at rear was filled with a narrow room or passageway. Only other Maunder work on 1271-79 was turning rear house ruined by fire into a storage shed. That was almost certainly not the cottage that was 1279 in 1975. I heard it had been moved from foot of Polk to make room for Maritime Museum, which may now be a Senior Center. A west door on edge of cliff above Polk Street suggested it had been moved from somewhere else. However, since interior finishing was duplicate of our 1265 cottage clear redwood wall paneling and had identical wooden floors and ceilings, that tale from Mrs. Oliver who also remembered 1906 block fire fighting story and lived across Lombard above Culebra, couldn't have been correct unless paneling and wood ceiling were added at 1279.

Other old timers I recall from my early 1263-67 days are Marion and Harold Wallace, who moved to 1257-61 in 1940's after buying property from Mrs. McDonald, who was the daughter of Thomas and Mathile Murray. Both vividly recalled 1906 earthquake times from their childhood homes. The old timer of most importance to 1263-79, I missed by 5 years. In 1920 Maunder sold 1271-79 to Dr. Elton and Heloise Davis and the Davises purchased 1269 the same month. In August 1923 they bought 1263-67, according to property records for '$10 gold coin'. They clad all in cedar shingles over the original clear redwood siding and lived in back three cottages, moving from our 1265 French doors on top floor via outside spiral staircase down to main floor of 1269 or just walking across property line from entrance of one to other. How the neighborhood changed from 1915-50 are noted in Sanborn maps below. 1263-79 at time of 1975 lot split and sale still indicates rear remnants of 1898 fire.

1263-79 Lombard 1920-1980 Aerial Lot Plan,..........................................1915-1950 SanBorn Chestnut-Larkin-Greenwich-VanNess

Dr. Davis died in 1950's, but Heloise remained in rear cottages, often with front flats unrented until her death in 1970. Mrs. Oliver indicated that as she withdrew from reality with age, she stashed Dr. Davis under 1279 kitchen to be near him. When 1279 was razed for new unit about 2000, it wasn't clear whether bones found were animal or Doctor. In any event, a SF Savings and Loan and real estate mover and shaker picked up all three properties in probate, separated them with easements when I bought 1263-67 in 1975.

1263,67 Lombard in 1975,....................................... 1269,79 Lombard in 1975,.................................... 1265 Lombard from 1267 Rear Deck in 1975

1267 Lombard rear looking SE uphill........................... 1263-79 Lombard after 1980 remodel,....................1269 1249-51, 1257 Lombard from 1267 Roof SE
On the day I moved in and carried some of last boxes up those sixty some stairs from Lombard, a friend stopped with a housewarming gift, Here Today. As I turned to Russian Hill section, I was pleasantly surprised to see photos below of both the front flats and rear cottage as well as other early history of my new neighborhood. Think I became fascinated about learning more then and have ever since.

1968 Here Today 1257, 1263,67, 1271 Lombard, 1215,.....Here Today FrontCover Casebolt House Pierce/ Union,......................................1261, 1275 1876 Cottages

New Young Life for 1263-79

My 1267 years, half with PJ, were a time when block was filled with women Stanford MBA's and young couples. It was more of a neighborhood than any we had ever experienced since leaving Chicago area after college. We still recall good friends, colorful and some notable characters from those years, mostly in cottages or flats of 1263-79 or either uphill or across Lombard. Cottages were mostly lived in by young southern gentleman who passed them from one Chemical Bank rep to another, including Bill Harrison who went on to NY, London and then back to NY as Morgan Chase CEO until he brought Dimon in as his successor.

1265 Lombard looking SW, ................................1265 Lombard roof looking NW,.......... 1265 Lombard Roof looking N,..............1267 Lombard looking NW

Most colorful of our southern gentlemen Chemical Bank tenants was David Kelso. With his Bachelor and Toastmaster gang, cottage became 'Ranch' or last stop on weekend nights. We recall him most in pink suit for Kentucky Derby parties at Ranch. Seems his family owned or was associated with Kelso, ranked 4th in US 20th Century Thoroughbreds behind Man O War, Secretariat and Citation. During our wedding we rented cottage back for wedding dinner, where David regaled everyone by opening toast with 'Earlier this week when I drove by and saw all my furniture being loaded into Salvation Army pickup, I realized I may be in trouble...' My thought was more of a ghostly Mrs. Davis in later years wandering among the 1265, 1269, 1279 cottages, just as we did that wedding week of May 1980 in photos below.

May 1980: 1265-7 Garden,...........................1265 Dinner Set Up,......................... Midlots East,......................................................... 1267 Ceremony

Across street was longtime friend Art Ciocca who went on to found and head Wine Group after traveling world, just like me. Since our Lombard days, we met many other close friends who lived along that charming 1200 Lombard block. Skip Clemens rented across Lombard before 1263-79 hit the market in 1975 and got preview look at 1263-67 as potential buyer. His succinct conclusion was: 'Looked like a lot of work.' He may have been right, but I'm just glad I didn't view it same way when I showed up for open house on bicycle without an agent, just as PJ and I did some years later with Octavia. Skip did stay around the neighborhood for a while as an owner, when he bought a Polk Greenwich condo.

And Then Path from Chandler, Hauser, Peinado to Burwell, Palisade/Ross and 'Lombard Villas'...

After 1983 much of regular contact with Lombard was through weekly clean-ups, repair or maintenance calls and flat cleanups as tenants moved out and into front building. We also stayed active neighborhood issues mainly relating to Lombard summer weekend traffic, 1268 Lombard plans and over course of 1980's the neighbor views that influenced the building of Polk Greenwich condominiums. During those years, PJ had lunch with 1269 neighbor who we also knew through the Ballet Auxiliary. When our neighbor talked of building on open front terraced gardens, she seemed surprised when PJ asked about easements between properties that facilitated 1263-79 sale as separate properties in 1975. I expect that may have been start of George Hauser and Rene Peinado effort to develop 1269-79 after the 1997 sale of both properties. 1271-79 was finally completed in early 2000's and 1269 went into foreclosure. A decade after work on 1269 ended with gaping front and rear excavations, we learned that plans were being revived to complete development, which culminated in Redwod Mortgage development at 1269 and new neighborhood in photos below.

1257-1271 Lombard,................................................1268 Lombard,............................................................... 1261, 1265, 1269B Lombard

1263-67 Lombard and Neighbors Chronological Highlights and Recollections

1850 San Francisco expanded from Larkin to Divisidero as Western Addition

1861 1268 Lombard built for Robert Price, below street level after 1894 Lombard grading until 2011 destruction.

1869 William Hamilton buys 1200 Lombard S block from liquor wholesaler Anson Hotaling.

1874 Andrew Hallidie's Clay St. railroad adds horse car route north along Larkin to Chestnut.

1876 Hamilton subdivides block into mostly 25 ft wide lots and begins sales: $1250 on Larkin, $450-$750 others

 

1876-8 dozen homes and 2501 Larkin grocery on block: 2531 Larkin, 1261, 1265 Lombard still remain

1876-7 Ridge homes rear of Lombard lots: '76-Maunder 1279, Ambrose 1261, Inwood 1249; '77-Bailey 1265; Brown 1269

1876-7 Tidd builds his home at 2614 and then 2612 Polk for Hawks, later rear of lots adjacent to rear of 1269,79 Lombard

1880+ Multiple residences on lots usually on Lombard with mid lot open space

1894-5 Lombard and Greenwich graded, Polk excavated for flat passage N to Bay. Polk access lost, became 'cliff dwellers'

1898 July fire destroys 2614, 2612 and 1279 rear after Tidd home moved to 1271-75 Lombard. Fire burns 1265 rear

 

1905 New 1257-61 owner Murray builds set of Meussdorffer flats in front of lot.

1906 Neighbors fight firestorm faggots with wine or vinegar soaked blankets. Save block by preventing roofs burning

1908 Ennor after buying 1263-67 when Bailey moved to 1245 builds front flats to Rush, Wright Cahill designs

1920 Maunder sells 1271-9 to Davis, begins 50+ years 1263-79 common ownership. Davises buy 1269, live in cottages.

1922-3 1263-67 from Bone to Braun in 1922, then sold to Davises for $10 gold coin in 1923, flats often vacant, also 1271-

 

1941 McDonald daughter of Murrays sells 1257-61 to Wallaces

1950's Dr. Davis dies, widow reclusive in cottages perhaps with Dr. under 1279 kitchen.

1961 Fontana Towers and 1268 Junior League Here Today lead to Supervisors 40' residential height limit

1970 Mrs. Davis dies, 1263-79 to probate

1972 Ben Hom winning bid $155,000. Easements developed for 1269-79 access, 1263-7 overhangs

1973 Frazier application for Variance to build on front of 1249-51 denied by Planning Commission, Appeals

 

...................................* * *...................................

1975 Handeland buys 1263-67, Blackmers 1269, Keegan 1271-79.

1975+ 1263-79 friends Fran, Elliot, Vince, Kelso, Gray, Fays, Chandler, Kemp, Mort, Maureen, Harrison, Robinson

1975+ Lombard others: Art, Amy; Eric, Cindy; Hodders; Joan; Greg; Morrows, Horvers, Meg, Garretts

1978-80 Blackmers rear deck built by Burgess, extend front forward across full 1269 width

1982 Campaign to solve crooked street traffic: close to traffic, Lombard 1 way W

1983 Hodder denial by Planning to build home on front of 1249-51

 

1983 Carma Canadian oil money plans for Polk Greenwich with rear yard to north, denied and withdrawn

1984 Chandler buys 1269 from Leonard-Fay, uses Polk Greenwich property for dog run

1986 Motion 10909 for covenants to proposal for Polk Greenwich condominiums with rear yard to E and trees protected

1988 1265 cottage west wall footings rebuilt, storage under deck enclosed

 

1990's Chandler and Hauser investigate building feasibility on front of 1269 lot.

1997 Rene Peinado buys 1269 from Chandler and 1271-79 from Keegan. Chandler Polk Greenwich Easement agreement

1997-8 Peinado-Hauser plans to fill 1269-79 lots to 40' height limit, rescind access easements that restrict front 1269

1998 Peinado builds 2652 Polk condominiums on lot vacant since Tidds home moved to 1271-5 Lombard before 1898

1998 April Planning decision to heighten 1269-79, move 1269 further forward, immediate excavation: no permit, shoring

1998 May + Red Tag Stop Work, retaining wall failure adjacent to 1263-67, tiebacks, soldier beams, suits, arbitration

1998+ Lender Redwood Mortgagerepossess1269 after default, sell 1271-79 front, complete but can't sell rear

 

2008 Burwell, Bloszies proposals for 1269 to neighbors, 1998 damage, new retaining wall discussions

2011 After hearings since 2009, 1269 taken down, 2012 approval of 1269 plans, 2 units, midlot open, rear yard variance

2011 Seismic, reshingling on 1263, 67 S wall. 1269 retaining wall, front height issues

2012 Palisade/Ross begin construction shortly before 1268 Lombard 4 new units, 1263-7 shingling, front scaffold work

2013 1263,67 seismic, dry rot completion, 1265 deck rebuild after 2010 windstorm temporary repair.

2013 1269 rear deck and Motion 10909 of Polk Greenwich approval covenants, completion of 1269 Lombard