Let’s break down San Francisco architecture

San Francisco is a city of style – and this certainly extends to its real estate trends. It’s not unusual to spot half a dozen distinct architectural types on a single city block. That’s why we at Paragon have broken down the kinds of architecture you’ll likely see around town. Really, all you need to do is take your pick!

The research for this, by the way, was done by the San Francisco architect James Dixon. We’re very grateful for his generosity in allowing us to use this. Also, see the Victorian-Edwardian timeline that accompanies this article for further information; it was also created by Dixon.

The Gothic Revival took place from 1840 to 1890. Spurred by the publication of Cottage Residences by Andrew Jackson Downing in 1842, this style used wood instead of stone and threw aside gargoyles and stained glass in favor of a simpler type of design. This is also considered Carpenter Gothic style, with characteristics including steeply pitched roofs and leaded-glass windows.

Victorian Italianate came into vogue between 1850 and 1890. The home at 807 Franklin exemplifies this style with its quions around the edges, tall, narrow windows with rounded tops and classical columns. Victorian Stick followed from 1860 to 1890, with long pieces of wood applied to their surface, particularly at corners. These grew more elaborate in the 1870s.

Queen Anne was in style from 1880 to 1910 and shows its predecessors in its design, particularly amongst those homes that were remodeled from one type to another. Everything was decorated, including multi-textured facades, steeply pitched roofs and ornamental bands. Then came the Arts and Crafts movement from 1890 to 1910; this was inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris. Here you’ll tend to see stone and brick in doorways and alongside window as well as Gothic ornaments and Tudor half-timbering.

The Shingle style came into play between 1880 and 1910 with its hallmark shingle cladding. Here you’ll find minimal decorative elements and an aim for informality and rustic nature. Many of the city’s best architects played in this pool – think Julia Morgan, Ernest Coxhead and Bernard Maybeck. Then came the Tudor Revival of 1890 to 1940, which brought into play homes that were evocative of country properties in medieval England. The Arts and Crafts movement is evident here.

During the Mission Revival of 1890 to 1920, Mission-shaped parapets or window dormers became stylish. Most of these homes were built after the turn of the 20th century. This was also the same time that the Edwardian Craftsman began to emerge, going strong until 1930. Here the horizontal is emphasized as well as the use of native, natural construction materials and casement windows.

The Spanish Eclectic and Revival brought Mediterranean-style homes to the city, with a mix of Spanish Revival, Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival. Hallmarks here include low-pitched roofs with little or no overhang, red roof tiles and stucco walls.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com

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