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If you’ve ever wondered about that rundown Italianate at 807 Franklin Street, or looked longingly at the undeveloped portion of its 75 foot wide lot, you’ll want to take note.

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With the owner having filed for bankruptcy, 807 Franklin has hit the market listed for $2,200,000. And while the existing house is protected and in need of “major repairs,” with a lot that’s zoned for 80 feet in height and high density development, the listing touts “tremendous potential for high rise condos” to rise on the undeveloped half of the lot.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Jane

    I’ve often thought about this house when I’m filling up at the gas station next door. It has some really beautiful details. I can’t imagine anyone restoring it to its former glory, though. Franklin, the gas station, the disrepair – how could it be worth it. I imagine something horrible will be built on the lot and the package will be complete.

  2. Posted by Drew

    I’m usually in favor of high-density developments, but this gorgeous Victorian mansion is a part of our heritage that makes San Francisco special. The job of the historical resources board is to ensure the preservation of these architectural gems (not to preserve old warehouses without architectural merit).
    One day soon perhaps the gas station on the corner can be razed for high-density development; but in the meantime I hope someone can polish up this grand old dame to her former glory…

  3. Posted by sf

    Let’s get real- there are hundreds of buildings just like this in the city. Not every one needs preserved. Tear it down and build something useful for this generation. When this was built originally the world was 1/10 the population it is now. The single family 2 story home model no longer works in the dense downtown areas.
    Or we should say to hell with new housing, every single house that looks like every other house should be preserved because we can never let go of anything, and to hell with making the city and planet more livable and green.

    • Posted by Lisa

      No !!! There are many rooms in this beautiful historical building. Why tear down a part of history for what ?? . Have we really become a throw away society. I hope when I get old, someone will have the fortitude to take care of me and family, friends.

    • Posted by George

      You are promoting a toxic – and meant to be manipulative – false dichotomy. It isn’t a choice of either preserving every single house OR building new housing. Saving the city’s character AND building new housing can both be accomplished.

  4. Posted by BT

    As for razing the gas station, then there would be no place to buy gas in this part of town (especially if the only other station–on Van Ness which is an even worse location–gets razed too. I’m no fan of gas stations as a use, but they are something ugly we’ve got to have. It could be on the ground floor of a larger building, though (unless building codes prevent it.
    The Victorian itself is something I’ve been wondering about for 30 years now–how and why whoever owns it just lets it sit there deteriorating and the lot next door going unused (except for a couple of Zipcars before they moved to other locations). The lot in particular should have multifamily housing on it. There are appropriate used for the Victorian such as as a city club or consulate.

  5. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Speaking of gas stations, I saw one in Rome that was simply a curb cut, with two pumps on the sidewalk. People would pull in, gas up (with an attendant) and then pull out again. There was a tiny storefront where the attendant would hang out. I thought it was a fabulous minimization of the square footage required for a gas station. The design allowed for apartments right over top of the attendant’s booth which went up several stories.
    Of course the pumps were pretty heavily up-armored with metal posts to protect them from errant cars.

  6. Posted by Jeremy

    Are there any examples of mixed-use buildings with gas stations in them? It would be nice to have a better utilization of that corner lot, but to keep the service station. I know it’s quite difficult to remove that use from the land, and DPH doesn’t like to have residential uses near pollution sources.

  7. Posted by lyqwyd

    Seems like a few people missed this part of the story:
    “… the existing house is protected… “

  8. Posted by R

    “Are there any examples of mixed-use buildings with gas stations in them?”
    Tons of them, everywhere but here.. Many countries worldwide have gas stations on the first floor of a multi-unit building. Much better use of space.

  9. Posted by Marten

    Zooming in on Google maps, it looks like only the first 25 feet are the original Italianate, so I’m sure the rest could be demolished to make more room to build or leave the required open space. Maybe even move the Italianate?

  10. Posted by Adam

    Only the first 25 feet? If you have ever driven by and got a good look at it you would know this is not the case. These houses were never meant to be seen from above or from the back. I am sure before the gas station went in there was probably a row of homes next to it, so why beautify that side of the building when it was new?
    The interesting and historic part of this house are the two Italianate facades, and the side of the house is especially rare to see. I would normally not mind a building going up next to the house, but in this case it would obscure the home’s most interesting feature.

  11. Posted by Anonchiban

    The bougainvillea at the rear of the vacant lot should be “protected” too. Just kidding, sort of. (That thing is seriously awesome)

  12. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Keep it exactly as is. This dilapidated mess is a great monument to our absurd preservation laws.
    In 75 years, will all the David Baker projects be “protected”?

  13. Posted by ncydr

    The victorian (and the tenant) is most certainly a hold out and out of character with the neigbborhood. Perhaps, relocation of both the building (and the tenant) is most logical. But then again it’s SF. The historic commission and preservationist will have a game day on this one.

  14. Posted by Serge

    Agree with mostly every post here. Preserving buildings like these is important. Unlike the tasteless flat-faced apartment buildings that were built in the 60s-90s around the City, these are are beautiful examples of architecture. Granted, beauty is subjective, few would argue that Victorian and Italianate houses are not a view to behold.
    I too have wondered about this building and the adjacent lot. Sad to see what has befallen of it, but I hope something good happens.
    On the topic of razing the gas station. It’s unlikely to happen since it appears to be the only gas station in the area and on a heavily trafficked thoroughfare. Some years back Shell was offloading a lot of their gas stations in SF (for example: 19th and Lincoln, 7th and Lincoln, etc), but I don’t believe any of them changed hands. They didn’t have this location on the chopping block then, so I doubt it will go.
    I can imagine a beautiful mid-rise development at that corner that mirrors the design of the property at 807 Franklin. But it will probably look like everything built today. I hope one day architects get tired of this cookie-cutter design style (yes, I know that Victorians were once probobably cookie-cutter).

  15. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    The fact that the Italianate is “rundown” or a “dilapidated mess” isn’t due to preservation laws, it’s because the owner decided to let the building become rundown.
    The city should have declared this blighted and took it away from the idiot owner a long time ago via eminent domain and then people wouldn’t be using its “dilapidated” condition as a reason for a protected resource to be torn down.

  16. Posted by BobN

    Seems awfully pricey. A very similar house around the corner sold for like $900K a couple years ago. It was in much better shape, the lot was standard size, not like this double (or more than double) one.
    There are few grand Victorians of this size around, certainly not “hundreds” as someone said above.

  17. Posted by GetOffthe Ivy

    If I had 3.5 to 4 to do a project this might be fun. Like the access to the 80. The vacant lot would make an excellent retirement fund.

  18. Posted by XY

    “Let’s get real- there are hundreds of buildings just like this in the city. Not every one needs preserved. Tear it down and build something useful for this generation. ”
    That’s right, let’s just make sure we preserve one (just one) Victorian building and tear the rest down so we can build lots of super modern apartment buildings. That way SF can look just like any city America, but at least we’ll have that one Victorian example to remind us of our city’s architectural heritage.

  19. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    As usual there is a middle ground between tearing down all the Victorians and demanding preservation of every single Victorian regardless of condition or location.
    This is probably full of dry rot and standing on a crumbling brick foundation, so to restore it the new owner will have to replace everything but the two facades. And maybe they’ll find one or two features inside that are worthy of preservation. If this were in a neighborhood of semi-detached homes and 1 to 3-story buildings I’d say of course it has to be restored. But in this location there are much better uses for the land which would be compatible with the neighborhood. There’s a reason nobody lives there now. If the facades are so valuable, then move or reconstruct them somewhere else.
    And come on, this is maybe 120 years old, not 1200. A Victorian from that era is not a rarity in SF and it probably never will be unless we get a 9+ quake.

  20. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Yep. The people who think S.F. should bulldoze most every traditional and historic building and build lots more generic cookie-cutter modernist buildings with the goal of making the city more livable and green should realize that higher density is only more “green” if people actually choose to live in S.F.
    If people see The City being rapidly marked by Eastern Bloc-era soviet-style architecture they might choose to flee to the suburbs even more often than occurs right now, and that would be decidedly less “green” than keeping the beautiful buildings that contribute to San Francisco’s specialness and still encouraging taller, denser structures to be built on underutilized lots.

  21. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    “Eastern Bloc-era soviet style architecture”? OK, I’ll settle for 3 examples of such architecture built in SF since that era officially ended (in 1991).

  22. Posted by Serge

    Examples of Eastern Bloc-era architecture:
    http://goo.gl/maps/CDzWI — Albeit not residential.
    http://goo.gl/maps/GPu7S — Again, not residential.
    http://goo.gl/maps/SSY9m — Curvy residential.
    Granted, these don’t truly compare to Eastern Bloc houses, they sure do reek of it. I was born in such a country and visited last year, so I’m familiar what they look like first hand.

  23. Posted by Serge

    Addendum: Missed that you asked for buildings built after 1991. In that case, there are few examples.

  24. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    yerba buena lofts. Residential. Built 2001.
    I’ll come back for the other two after I figure out how Serge so defly employed the google URL shortener.

  25. Posted by Serge

    Brahma: That’s almost on the verge of Brutalist architecture.
    To use the Google URL shortner with Maps, click on the little chain-link icon next to the print icon. There will be a checkbox for “Short URL” that will convert the longer URL to a goo.gl address, which you can then copy.

  26. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    OK, the Yerba Buena Lofts aren’t my cup of tea either but they’re a far cry from “Soviet” architecture and besides they’re hardly representative of what’s being built around the city. If you don’t like modern architecture, fine, but all that tortured hyperbole is just tiresome and nobody takes you seriously.
    In the 21st century a Victorian SFH doesn’t belong on Franklin & Turk (or whatever the cross street is) and that’s why this building is what it is. Tree huggers may find it charming but it has no economic purpose and no historical significance. Get over it.

  27. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Thanks, Serge.
    I like modern architecture plenty, even if it isn’t my all-around favorite. It’s just that the project I mentioned above, with large expanses of exposed concrete, cast into simple geometric forms, reminds me too much of soviet-block architecture.
    And I realize that lots of people who read Dwell habitually and have aesthetic sensabilities I disagree with think the building is great “minimalistic design” and “cool”. Whether people like that take me seriously or not doesn’t change my mind.
    Modern architecture doesn’t have to be “cheap”, and I don’t mean that in the sense of “inexpensive”. A home should be warm and inviting, not cold and severe and reminiscent of a cold-war era East German prison.
    Here’s my three property list, formidable doer, with the same objection:
    Yerba Buena Lofts. Residential. Built 2001.
    1029 Natoma Street. Residential. Built 2007. Alternate photo.
    2020 Ellis Street. Residential. Built 2012. Alternate photo.
    You could say that in the 21st century a Victorian SFH doesn’t belong anywhere in S.F., but you’d be wrong.

  28. Posted by sparky*b

    Brahma,
    You could just say you don’t like Saitowitz. You wouldn’t be the first.

  29. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty (incensed owner)

    Brahma: “You could say that in the 21st century a Victorian SFH doesn’t belong anywhere in S.F., but you’d be wrong.”
    More hyperbolic nonsense. Nobody’s saying that. I’m saying that this particular Victorian SFH in this particular location is obviously not wanted or needed by anyone, or else it would be in habitable condition and occupied. I know many “incensed renters” like to think that property owners are just evil capitalists who keep buildings as toys but the real world is different.
    This is listed for $2.2M. Getting a residential mortgage on it is impossible. It will take at least another million or two to restore it to habitable condition, not to mention years of jumping through administrative hoops because it’s “protected”. Now tell me what sane person with $3-4M in cash would want to live in that location, on a busy thoroughfare next door to a gas station, squeezed between Civic Center and the Western Addiction, when they can easily get a better home for the same price in an attractive neighborhood?

  30. Posted by bgelldawg

    If it isn’t too late to bring the discussion back to the house, I have been inside of it (about five years ago) and it has what appears to be much of the original detail. It was never chopped up into apartments or modernized.
    I knew the owner. He lived alone in the house. I don’t think he intentionally let the house detiorate. He loved the house and all things Victorian, but he did not have the money to restore it.
    I would like to know how and to what extent the house is “protected” as stated in the posting.
    I would also like to know why/how a previous commentor believes there is a tenant in the building.
    Odd that there is no link to a listing of the property as there is in most posts.

  31. Posted by SocketSite

    The sale of 807 Franklin has closed escrow with a reported contract price of $2,650,000.

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