Remarkable S.F. House Embodies City's Evolution

A Victorian house in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco may be the Zelig of the city's social history. From middle class professionals, to working class earthquake refugees, to Japanese entrepreneurs, to jazz mecca; it's seen it all.

"Few people who pass the violet-painted house at 1712 Fillmore St. give it a second look. It's another Victorian in a city full of them," writes Gary Kamiya. "But this building is different. Perhaps no other structure in San Francisco has such an extraordinary story. If its walls could talk, they would relate virtually the entire history of the city."

Kamiya explores the building's life story, from its construction in 1895, as a single-family home for middle class professionals, to its most recent brush with cataclysm - the urban renewal efforts of the 1960s that saw the Western Addition gutted, 2,500 Victorians torn down, and 20,000 to 30,000 residents displaced.

"Two living neighborhoods are gone. Yet the Queen Anne still stands. The ghosts of Nippon Drugs and Vout City and Jimbo's Bop City, of Hatsuto Yamada and John Coltrane and Charles Sullivan, still have somewhere to call home. That is as much of a happy ending as this story can have."

Full Story: S.F. building escaped rampant demolition


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