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Home to Hills Bros. Coffee scion for decades, this $13M SF home is for sale

Anna Marie Erwert | SFGATE

The well-preserved 1930s gem is a stunning example of French Eclectic architecture.

If the walls of 3498 Jackson could talk, they’d probably speak about coffee. Home to Herbert Gray Hills of Hills Bros. Coffee fame for almost a quarter-century, the property is now for sale for $12.9 million. 

Hills Bros. was founded in the late 1800s and was the first company to pack roast coffee in vacuum-sealed cans. In 1926, Hills Bros. moved its operations to 2 Harrison St. in the Embarcadero (a landmark building in which Google is now located). With the success of the brand, the Hills family was able to acquire this Presidio Heights mansion for their family.

Completed in 1937, the 6,385-square-foot residence was designed by prominent Bay Area architect F. Frederic Amandes, whose work includes luxury apartment buildings in Pacific Heights and Telegraph Hill, San Francisco’s Olympic Hotel, Parkside Theatre, the Strand Theater in Alameda, and the Fox Theatre in Richmond, among others.

According to writer and historian Steve Vaught, 3498 Jackson marked Amandes’ “return to construction
after several years forced hiatus from the economic shutdown of the Great Depression.” Vaughn wrote that “3498 Jackson was built as one of a trio of houses along with 3496 Jackson and No. 2 Locust. The homes were largely similar in scope, but Amandes gave them each a completely unique appearance by designing 3498 in French Eclectic, 3496 in the Mediterranean. and 2 Locust in English.”

Herbert Gray Hills shared the house with his wife Winifred, who was a well-known Bay Area socialite. There, they raised their family, enjoying the home from the 1940s to the mid-1960s.

Today, the home looks much like it must have when it was built, though modern luxury touches abound. Its preservation is apparent from the Mansard roof and dormers to the oval staircase that swirls between each of the home’s four floors. 

Exterior street view of 3498 Jackson
Adam Potts

The home sits on a corner lot in Presidio Heights.

White steps lead to an entrance
Adam Potts

The exterior edifice has been well preserved, exhibiting the French Eclectic style just as it did in the 1930s when it was built.

View of black and white tile and a large window
Adam Potts

The entry room highlights the iron and glass front door and tiled floor.

Wooden floors and and a staircase lead to the dining room
Adam Potts

From this hallway view, we see the home’s oval staircase that connects its four levels.

View of a sitting area featuring four chairs and glass doors
Adam Potts

Light fills the living room, a spacious area that takes up the full backside of the home’s main level. 

Living room featuring large windows
Adam Potts

Huge windows look out on classic Presidio Hills views.

Dining room featuring wooden cabinetry
Adam Potts

A formal dining room with dramatic built-ins overlooks the landscaped property.

View of a primary bedroom
Adam Potts

The primary suite is on the second level and includes a dressing room, two bathrooms, plus a sitting room/office.

View of a marble bathroom
Adam Potts

Marble, a sunken tub, and a wall of glass add luxury to this bathroom. 

Outdoor furniture and a mural with trees
Adam Potts

A whimsical patio offers outdoor living, both covered and exposed.