Architecture

Letter to the Editor: Lecture – SF’s Hidden Residence Parks

Editor:

Your readers may be interested in a lecture about San Francisco’s Residence Parks on Nov. 30, 2022, 4:30 p.m. in the Department of Art + Architecture, University of San Francisco, Maraschi Room, Fromm Hall, 2130 Fulton St.  Free to the public.   

San Francisco’s Hidden Residence Parks    

You may be living in a residence park and not know it. Between 1905 and 1924, 36 “residence parks” were planned or launched in San Francisco, with picturesque streets, landscaping, detached houses and setbacks to convey the feeling of living in a park. These include Presidio Terrace, St. Francis Wood, and Seacliff, but residence parks were located in the Sunset, Richmond, West of Twin Peaks, on Twin Peaks and the Outer Mission. 

These are not typical speculative tracts and they make up a large chunk of the city’s residential fabric, more than 7,500 period revival houses. Most were designed for professionals, not the wealthy, and some were marketed to the middle and working classes. All had deed restrictions that banned Blacks and Asians from owning property. 

Professional developers used engineers and architects to design streets, entry gates, public statuary, landscaping, and custom houses. Family-run developers did the work themselves and tried to imitate the professionals with varying degrees of success. Amateur developers, including a sewing machine salesman, cattle rancher, and haberdasher, tried their hand but usually sold out to others. Nonetheless, the overall result is distinctive neighborhoods with fine houses and landscaping that stand out from the typical pattern in San Francisco. 

Find out where they are and how they got there in my lecture. I am the author of Garden Neighborhoods of San Francisco, the Development of Residence Parks 1905-1924, by McFarland Publishing, 2021. 

“Well-written, well-researched, interesting to read, it tells an essential and basic piece of the story of San Francisco’s architectural history. What did we do without it?” – Michael R. Corbett, architectural historian.

Nov. 30, 2022, 4:30 p.m. in the Urban Studies, Department of Art + Architecture, University of San Francisco, Maraschi Room, Fromm Hall, 2130 Fulton St.  Free.  

Richard Brandi

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