Developer who tore down historic San Francisco house ordered to build an exact replica

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Including interior finishes? Trim that’s no longer made and must be recreated from scratch? Custom made vintage window styles done to modern double pane standards? That’s going to be… a bit expensive.

Grumpy cat saying “good” seems somehow inappropriate, so here’s a stern Mike Holmes with his response:


I’m glad someone in SF remains vigilant about preserving the city’s character and history, but that is (was) a damn ugly building.


As long as it’s architecturally and aesthetically the same can he, say, upgrade the electrical and the plumbing systems, wire for cable and internet, and, most important, upgrade from 1936 earthquake and fire codes to 2018 codes? I would let him do that if I were SF. Incidentally, if he does this right, and with the publicity and the famous architect, he might get more for this rebuild than for the McMansion he was originally planning.


Can we please apply the same ruling to the original Penn Station in New York?


Good point. There’s probably almost nothing about the original house that meets today’s code.

From a New England standpoint, it’s amusing what is considered of architectural significance in California. Also amusing that a 1 bedroom, 927 square foot teardown with no yard sells for 1.7 million.


“Heritage house that’s been totally upgraded to modern insulation/wiring/plumbing standards” is a thing that definitely commands a premium price. Not sure if “house built this year to mimic heritage house that was torn down on this site” would be quite as popular, but it’s almost certainly going to demand a premium over “generic house built this year.”


I can’t abide not playing by the rules – obnoxious as much of the SF housing rules are (at every level) – but I’m with you: this is not an attractive building.


Most cities require a demolition permit from the local planning office or equivalent authority. I always (maybe naively) assumed demolition companies were required to see and file those permits before tearing anything down on penalty of fines.


With good reason.

The park is along my walk to get groceries.

There’s a memorial park there now.


The ugliest part of the whole greed grab is that some swine thought he could get by destroying something legally protected and counting on the trump mentality to allow him free reign to do what he wanted. I don’t care if it was an outhouse from a cathouse it wasn’t a choice he got to make legally. At least one jerk is gonna pay for his greed. It should happen to many more such criminals.


In this case it was not, in the words of Grace Hopper, “easier to ask forgiveness than get permission”, but unfortunately it so often is. It’s good to see a city standing up to these arrogant gentrifying pricks. Here’s hoping they do it more often.


Still though, this is a precedent, and it may give developers pause if they plan to tear down a truly beautiful structure.


Good. I’m so tired of rich or powerful people flagrantly flouting laws with impunity.


I looked it up online, and it’s quite a nice house. The angle presented here is one corner of a very long house with lots of windows overlooking the city, a private swimming pool, indoor tropical garden and waterfall, and according to Zillow, it’s actually a 3000 sq ft house. I can totally see the architectural significance of it, and would love to live there if I could afford it. I think the writer of the article was taking liberties in calling it a 1300 Sq ft house, and showing that limited angle. Zillow has some street view shots, and the 3/4 satellite map view from the east shows all the windows.


Further reading:

Initial outrage in the comments:

Original listing, with somewhat lacklustre photos:

A nice tribute, before demo, by Jackie who took the photo in the BoingBoing post:

Unbuilt Neutras; should we rebuilt more? Although, it’s hard to tell the scale…could we upsize the floorplan dimensions by 20% for more contemporary tastes? We have more stuff today than we did back then.


Yep. I agree with everything here but the aesthetic. ;~)


Very similar thing happened in the UK with the Carlton Tavern in Westminster. Will be interested to see what the final outcome is…


I’m glad it’s loved, but some of those shots made it even worse, IMO. That pool with walls on three sides, one of which is a knee wall that just seems to be there to disrupt flow. The hideous porch that looks like it was built out of 4x4s? And that interior… just a jumble of low ceilings, weird vomit-like marble, black accents, carpeting that looks original from the 30s? It all looks like things were added as afterthoughts to make it look more designy. Whatever, it’s apparently worth $1.7 more than my opinions.


Yup. Reminds me of a demolition in the 00s in downtown Austin, around 5th St and Brazos on a Sunday.

I came walking up 5th St just in time to see a Caterpillar-style machine collapse a wall onto 3 or 4 cars parked in the street.