In The News

Whimsical Modern House by San Francisco’s Mid-Century Master William Wurster

The home in the city’s affluent Russian Hill neighborhood underwent an award-winning renovation in 2007

BY JONELLE MANNION  |  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 9, 2021  |  MANSION GLOBAL

LISTING OF THE DAY

Location: San Francisco, California 

Price: $7.995 million 

Built in 1961, this Mid-Century Modern home in the heart of San Francisco makes everyone who walks in smile, said listing agent Max Armour. A Zen-like entrance courtyard leads you into a charming and quirky living space with 20-foot ceilings and walls of white-painted redwood siding, the seamless planks running the full height of the room. 

The Russian Hill home, designed by William Wurster, later won an American Institute of Architects Award in 2007, while Wurster—considered one of America’s great residential architects—was awarded the AIA Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and also served as the dean of the architecture school at University of California, Berkeley. He died in 1973 at age 77. 

The main house underwent a major renovation in 2007 under Kuth/Ranieri Architects, who kept many of its original details while modernizing other elements such as the kitchen, and enriched the visual connection between the interior and the city. 

Mr. Armour said that “each level of the home has a different feel—it’s layout reflects the vibe of the city, which has all these cool hidden neighbourhoods and new adventures around every corner.” In 2013, the self-contained guest unit at the garden level also received a complete overhaul, courtesy of architect Olle Lundberg, who transformed the space into an open, gallery-like refuge.

An elevator to all levels provides access to a stunning guest unit with a minimal palette.
An elevator to all levels provides access to a stunning guest unit with a minimal palette and an airy, ethereal quality. Mario Serafin

The dynamic home benefits from outdoor spaces off of every level, enjoying expansive views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, downtown and the Bay Bridge, while being “nestled in a sheltered spot that catches the sun,” Mr. Armour commented. “What’s really unique about his home is you’d never know what was behind the front door and the huge white wall. Hidden by trees, the main entrance courtyard on Jones Street is truly an urban oasis.”

Spacious patios provide views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Downtown and Bay Bridge.
Spacious patios provide views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Downtown and Bay Bridge. Mario Serafin

Stats 

The 5,000-square-foot home has five bedrooms and four bathrooms. 

Amenities   

While the stylish mid-century home boasts a courtyard entryway, three separate garages, an elevator serving every floor, open fireplaces, a home office and multiple patios, its stand-out amenity is a stunning guest unit. 

With a sleek and minimal design, the garden-level apartment is extremely private, boasting a separate entrance around the corner on Heuston Street, as well as a separate garage and a lush patio surrounded by bamboo and ivy. The guest unit is connected to the main house only by elevator. 

Neighborhood Notes  

The property is enviably located in the Russian Hill neighborhood. On the border of North Beach and just a 20-minute walk to downtown San Francisco, “you need only walk outside your door to feel like you’re in the middle of everything,” Mr. Armour said. “You’re in the heart of the city in terms of where it all began—it’s classic San Francisco.” 

This atmospheric neighbourhood is populated by many restaurants, bars and parks, while also being just a stone’s throw from the ocean and enjoying iconic views of Coit Tower and Treasure Island. “The house is so close to the sea you can hear the seals barking, yet you still have all these San Fran landmarks within walking distance,” Mr. Armour said.

Russian Hill is culturally rich, with the San Francisco Art Institute right across the street from the property, while there is also a new park under development slated for completion this summer, Mr. Armour said. Francisco Park is an old reservoir out of use for almost a century, and will offer stunning unobstructed views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. 

Agent: Max Armour, Compass