One of the City’s most stately and unique Queen Anne Victorians. Lovingly restored and renovated in 2002, this exquisite home blends the best of period details and modern living. Ornate and grand public spaces, chef’s kitchen, landscaped rear patio and garden with hot tub and outdoor dining area, spacious and quiet master suite, home theatre, integrated audio system, lower level apartment, city vistas. “La Grande Dame” provides for elegant entertaining and comfortable family living.
This Victorian was originally built in the Queen Anne style circa 1888 and is located one block from Buena Vista Park, one of the oldest residential open spaces in San Francisco, in a neighborhood of important historical residences. The exterior ornamentation includes shingled turrets, dentil and scallop detail, mosaic tiled entry, bay windows plus many leaded and stained glass windows.
The formal reception hall leads to the spacious parlor and formal dining room, separated by antique pocket doors. The chef’s kitchen has been greatly expanded to include a family room and dining area with fireplace, and opens to the rear patio through double French doors. Green house windows surround the kitchen work areas and flood the room with an abundance of natural light. High ceilings, restored period fixtures, hardwood floors throughout.
The second level includes four bedrooms and three full baths plus laundry, with the master suite occupying the rear of the residence. On the top level a retreat features stunning Golden Gate and bay views, a rec room, guest suite, offices and west facing sun deck. The lower level provides for a home theatre and guest apartment with kitchenette and separate entrance, plus gym, steam shower, second laundry and extra storage. The garage and utility rooms are also on this level.
This significant Victorian structure was transformed into a comfortable contemporary residence with its historical architectural integrity intact by James McCoy & Associates.
"Pioneer of Ashbury Heights"
1450 Masonic Avenue (circa 1895 per water department records) was one of the homes developed by Mary A. Fritz. This energetic widow entered the real estate business and became quite productive by purchasing large parcels at rangeland prices when the slope above Haight street was basically pasture, then cutting and grading roads and finally building houses for sale.
Both the Fritz Mansion across the street at 1421 Masonic (moved from 101 Frederick and now condominiums), 1450 Masonic and 109 Frederick were exceptional residences in the Queen Anne style. She sold these and other houses in what she referred to as Ashbury Heights, named after Supervisor Monroe Ashbury, along streets named for other Supervisors Dr. Richard Cole, A.J. Shrader, Clayton and Charles H. Stanyan shortly after the Outside Lands Commission planned for private development of the "Haight-Ashbury" neighborhood, together with Buena Vista and Golden Gate Parks. Henry Haight was the California Governor during this time.
Mary Fritz was the subject of "Riptides" a column by Robert O'Brien in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1952, whose headline read, "Mrs. Fritz, the Pioneer of Ashbury Heights". It details that most of the construction was finished by 1890 when she decided to build her own home as were other families moving "from the fashionable thoroughfares of Pacific Heights". The article goes on, "Ashbury Heights, they said, overlooked not only the bay but Pacific Heights and the Pacific Heights fog as well."
According to "The American Weekly' in June 1930, her son Eugene Fritz Jr. essentially grew up in the real estate business, managing the Fritz family holdings. He later became a major developer on Nob Hill building the Huntington Hotel, the Park Lane and the Brocklebank apartments around Huntington Park, among many other structures. He died tragically of pneumonia after falling ill in Paris on a trip to visit his daughter, Dorothy (Dolly) Fritz who was in school in Switzerland. After graduating from Hamlin School, Dolly became a well known SF socialite, reigning as Queen of Mardi Gras at the Sheraton Palace as well as undertaking philanthropic work for the Guardsmen and Children's Hospital, among many organizations to which she contributed her time. She also had a flair for business, managing her extensive real estate holdings and living for a time in her Park Lane apartments.
Buena Vista Park
Buena Vista Park was created in 1870 by the same legislation that created Golden Gate Park. At that time the area had long been owned under pre-emption claims, but remained unsettled except for a very few farm houses. Owners whose land was taken for the park were compensated, and the city’s Park Commissioners allowed the park to remain in its natural state for some decades, until the neighborhood became more settled. Thus, the decision to purchase land for Buena Vista Park, for the benefit of a future generation, was far-seeing.
The main change to the park in its early years was the result of grading Haight Street as a thoroughfare. This grading left a bluff at the northern edge of Buena Vista Park, and whenever there were heavy rains, earth would collapse from the hillside onto the street. The earth was then carted off for gardening use in Golden Gate Park.
A plaque in the park states that the park was developed in the 1890s. However, the concrete staircases and paved paths in the park appear to date from a later time. A newspaper article from 1895 describes the park as “neglected and barren,” adding that “no one would now believe that it is a public park.” Another article in 1896 reports that neighbors had organized as the Park Hill Improvement Club, and were urging the Park Commission to make improvements. The paper reported, “the Park in its present condition is declared to be a disgrace to the city. It is a barren piece of land containing thirty-six acres and is covered with a growth of scrub oaks.”
As far as is known, not until 1910 did the Park Commission request $25,000 from the city supervisors to develop the park. Work finally began in 1912 and was completed in 1913, to a plan devised by Parks Superintendent John McLaren. This work, costing $15,000, included grading the eastern slope of the hill, making a driveway to the top of the hill, widening an esplanade there, grading a new footpath from Buena Vista Avenue to the top, building a staircase from a sidewalk to the top of a terrace, and planting thousands of trees. This work was formally dedicated in April 1913. The next year, the Haight and Ashbury District Improvement Association requested another $25,000 for Buena Vista Park improvements. It may be that the staircases leading into the park and the pathways in the park were built in stages over time.
The Park Hill Homestead Association
Just as the land that became Buena Vista Park had been owned under pre-emption claims for many years, so had the land surrounding the park. In the 1860s and 1870s the city surveyed this land, dividing it into blocks and streets and making intensive development possible. Once this was done, speculators moved in, bought the land, and formed homestead associations. Their purpose was to survey the land they had purchased, demarcating small lots for residences, and then market the land to individuals who would build residences for themselves. Invariably, homestead associations would form after the streets had been surveyed, but long before residential development had occurred close to the area. These were long-term investments, ones that would pay off many years later, after the land came into demand for development.
The Park Hill Homestead Association was formed in 1869, after Buena Vista Park had been surveyed but a year before legislation creating it had passed, by about a dozen investors. Over the next decade they donated land to the city for use as South Broderick Street (now Buena Vista Terrace), petitioned the city to grade other streets within and near their tract, and made certain improvements, such as grading their land to make it suitable for building. In 1878 and 1879 the homestead association trustees fully surveyed their land, which comprised some or all of six city blocks, dividing it into 25-foot wide lots. Lots were finally offered for sale in 1884, and by 1887 they were selling briskly. Some of the buyers did indeed build houses on their lots, while others were small-time speculators who bought lots with the expectation that their value would rise over time.
One of the major investors in the homestead association was the sugar manufacturer, Claus Spreckels. He had retained ownership of 38 lots at the north end of the tract.
By 1891 there were enough residents in the Park Hill Homestead and the adjacent Flint Tract to organize in protest against the planned construction of a hospital on Park Avenue (as the road surrounding the park was then called). The hospital was probably St. Joseph’s, which was first constructed in wood, and then was rebuilt in 1927 to designs by Bakewell and Brown. (It has since been converted into condominiums.)
Today the Buena Vista Park neighborhood is one of the most exclusive areas for housing, with its stately older homes and vibrant modern new construction, all the natural beauty of the hillside park, the ease of commuting downtown or to the south bay and its beautiful sweeping vistas of the surrounding bay.