Crimes Against Victorians, San Francisco Edition

Our last Crimes Against Victorians post (seven years ago!) was about Alameda, but the bad behaviour is not limited to one city, by any means.

On our walk around San Francisco the other day, we saw some stellar examples of the bad things that can happen to a house when nobody gives a crap.

Colour blocking

This colour blocking style is super popular in construction these days -- I guess it's starting to finally go out of style, thank goodness -- but in this case they basically tore off all the trim and to compound the sin chose a colour combination that was popular in 1989. For bonus points, it looks like they replaced the original windows with vinyl.

Let's hope it's at least warm and not too leaky in there now.

Window hash

Speaking of windows, I'm not entirely sure what happened when this house was converted to multi-family, but it involved ripping out half of two sets of bay windows. And making all kinds of odd, blocky additions on the back. This house has some construction going on now and I am intrigued to see what they are going to mess up next.

Roman arch

Trim stripped off, asbestos siding, weird brick stairs, and the inexplicable Roman arch over the doorway. What I can't figure out is why they kept the original arched windows.

Gridded siding

The corner house here has inexplicable siding. It's in a grid, like tile. Only not tile. Removing the trim makes the house look like it has a super-high forehead (the two houses next to the one on the corner have windows in the same place, and the only one that looks in proportion is the one on the right). They replaced the rounded windows with flat ones, which is very common because replacing a broken pan on those rounded windows is super expensive, but they also seem to have reduced the size of the windows. And extended the house halfway up the block.

Yellow and black

There are many things to say about this one, but the weirdest part of it for me is the odd garage snout.

Also, please note that all three houses in this picture are Victorians. The uphill house has had some kind of bizarre front added to it. And of course they didn't run the siding around the corner. Nobody ever looks at houses in any other direction than head-on.

Incomplete stucco job

This house was stuccoed over -- the classic way of ruining a Victorian. I actually kind of feel like that's not even worth taking a picture of any more, it's so common.

Original window

This is where this house gets interesting, though. The stucco is only on the front. I mean, only on the front; it ends at the corner: as you go around the corner the siding and trim are intact. They even look pretty good. Can I have a WTF from the audience?


Gold leafing to highlight details on the facade is popular. Gold paint is the cheap (and not very durable) way of doing it. This is something else entirely. Copper coloured paint, not picking out details but just coating entire corbels. The contrast with the entire building (which is pretty much the same as what you see here: dull gray siding and nothing special, most of the trim removed) is pretty stark. But I guess you can't say they didn't try.


And finally, asbestos siding that somehow manages to look like a scowl. I think they just brought the siding down over the corbels at the porch, like a set of asbestos bangs, hiding (but not exactly covering up) the window over the door.

And there's our irregular and obviously infrequent dose of snark.

posted by ayse on 04/21/13