Growing up as a bookworm gave me a strong affinity for older, elaborate homes. My favorite tales featured hidden passageways, transport to other worlds, or (as I aged) bodies crying out for justice. None of these things frightened me because each promised the fictional release my brain and spirit craved.
Later – as I pursued my passion for social justice – I looked to history both for inspiration and justification. The large homes I had avidly scoured for secrets became reduced to symbols of excess (especially after learning my relatives toiled downstairs to run them). Smaller, run-down homes I once barely glanced at achieved heroic status as examples of working class ingenuity.
In time – lots of time – I removed both the dreams and the judgments. Having come from a working class family I could see the skilled labor and fine materials poured into the more elaborate homes. Frankly the same went for the smaller homes clearly built from Sears Catalogs and salvaged items. In each case I could appreciate how these efforts allowed them to stand through the decades.
While I will never forget or forgive the excesses poured into some homes (both old and new) while many people barely survive, I cannot help but photograph them. In glancing at my favorites, however, I realize I need to capture the smaller, older ones. This will be quest.
One of the joys of living in the Inner Sunset is the variety of nearby houses. As a child I lived out near the beach – also in the Sunset – where many of the Houses looked the same. Mind you with the embrace of mid-Century Modern those Outer Sunset Houses are now “Golden.” Unfortunately to me they will always represent the old neighborhood I fled due to it seeming conformity. As a kid I used to ride the N Judah through the Inner Sunset or the 71 through the Haight and dream of living there. Now I overpay for the privilege but willing accept it.
Ultimately, my favorite houses will remain the eclectic mix of Victorians and Edwardians dotting San Francisco. As these random photos show their owners take tremendous pride in making each part of them look good (from the house paint to the landscaping to the political posters).
Sometimes it’s just the entire house which lights up with color and style. I have no idea how much it costs to paint and maintain these houses. I just thank the owners.
Folks even take the effort to make sure the window treatments match the amazing trim work. I loved the entire house but decided to carve out the window due to clever use of shades.
Speaking of trim work check out these shots. Each honors the carpentry put into the house. Unfortunately it can get discombobulating always craning my neck to see them. I especially don’t recommend it during vertigo outbreaks. But nice (and yes, I’ll admit rare) sunny days demand the extra attention.
The other thing impossible to overlook is how much work folks put in to ensuring their trees become part of the house’s decoration. There is an uproar throughout the City – and rightfully so – over the local government’s demand homeowners pay for the tree upkeep. I suspect, however, many homeowners here have done it for years. Don’t get me wrong, we have some of the best gardeners working for City and County of San Francisco. (I don’t say it solely because many are mics are like me (1/2) but because it’s true.) Still they don’t have the time to put in all this extra work. Check it out.