1268 Lombard 1861-2009 Rest In Peace
Over preservationists' protests, city officials are poised to approve demolition of one of San Francisco's oldest buildings - a two-story, wood-frame Russian Hill cottage built in 1861. The city attorney's office, meanwhile, has opened an investigation into whether the owner willfully neglected the building at 1268 Lombard St. to skirt rules intended to protect historic structures. Debra Walker, a member of the Building Inspection Commission, said the building department is drafting legislation to give city officials greater power to prevent such neglect of historic buildings.
On Tuesday morning, Walker toured the property and said the ground floor had partly collapsed and was creaking. She said the building's back windows and door had been removed, exposing the interior to the elements. "It looks to me like this was allowed to deteriorate so they don't have to deal with routine rules, so they got to have an emergency demolition and tear down the building and have a vacant lot, which in San Francisco is the most valuable thing you can have," she said.
Bill Strawn, spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection, said he expected the emergency demolition order to be approved today - a move opposed by the Little House Committee, a neighborhood group dedicated to preserving San Francisco's unique cottages. The building was designated a "historic resource" in a 1970 survey. An example of Italianate Victorian design, it was occupied by blue-collar workers through the mid-20th century and is "one of the several oldest houses in all of San Francisco," according to a city study. It is one of a handful of buildings in a corner of Russian Hill that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.
For decades the property was owned by the family of John L. Molinari, a former San Francisco supervisor and 1994 mayoral candidate. Around 2003, the Molinari family requested permission to demolish the building and develop the land. The city denied the request because of its historic value, Molinari said in an interview. In the following years, the family kept the building vacant because engineers had said it was structurally unsound, he said. But the family also kept it secure, he said, with a new roof and motion-detection lights. The family "absolutely" did not leave it exposed to the elements, he said. On Nov. 1, 2007, the Molinari family sold the building to a firm called MJ Investments, he said. Two representatives of the firm did not return calls Tuesday.
Soon after the sale, scaffolding and tenting went up around the building. Then on Dec. 18, 2007, Molinari received a city notice ordering him to stop repairs to the front of the building. Molinari said he was surprised to receive the letter, since he had neither applied for the permit nor put up scaffolding, and told the department he had sold the property. That was the last he heard of the matter, he said.
2009 Roof Destruction, ......1861+ Pre Lombard Grading, .....2009 Deterioration 1268 Lombard, .....1268 Rear S View
March 11, 2009: Over preservationists’ protests, city officials are poised to approve demolition of one of San Francisco’s oldest buildings – a two-story, wood-frame Russian Hill cottage built in 1861. The city attorney’s office, meanwhile, has opened an investigation into whether the owner willfully neglected the building at 1268 Lombard St. to skirt rules intended to protect historic structures.
“It looks to me like this was allowed to deteriorate so they don’t have to deal with routine rules, so they [get] to have an emergency demolition and tear down the building and have a vacant lot, which in San Francisco is the most valuable thing you can have,” Building Inspection Commission's Debra Walker said. Valuable as long as one can secure permits to build.
Property was recently owned by MJSF Investments, LLC and was transferred to 1268 Lombard Street, LLC. MJ is registered to Marge Vincent at 2501 Mission Street, a Vanguard Properties office. Current entity, 1268, is registered to James Nunemacher at 1841 Market Street. James Nunemacher is the CEO Vanguard Properties.