2799 Pacific

With $11,363,000 owed and no bidders at $10,000,000 on the courthouse steps, Chevy Chase Bank foreclosed upon 2799 Pacific back in 2009.

It wasn’t until 2011, however, that the bank forcibly removed the ex-owners and changed the locks on the Pacific Heights mansion with a large level side yard and rather luxurious spa out back.

2799 Pacific Spa

Commissioned by Dr. C. N. Ellinwood in 1893, 2799 Pacific was originally designed by Eugene Freeman and its 28 rooms (now including 11 bedrooms and 11 full bathrooms) and glass domed center hallway are San Francisco Landmark #207.

2799 Pacific Game Room and Dome

A three year and $10+ million renovation of the main house and expansion of the carriage house behind (think fitness center, caretaker’s apartment, and the 75-foot lap pool pictured above) was led by Lewis Butler and Paul Wiseman and finished in 2000.

2799 Pacific Entry

And while not yet officially listed nor inventory, 2799 Pacific is now back on the market and asking $12,500,000 for the bank-owned home.

63 thoughts on “A Foreclosed Upon San Francisco Landmark Mansion’s Return”
  1. i’ve drooled over this house daily from when they started the renovation in 2000. you could tell then that no expense was being spared. i’ve seen children around the house with the dad. sad the family lost it.

  2. The sales of these Pacific Heights mansions can be murky, and so I am looking forward to the sale of 2950 Pacific, which was donated by the owner to her church. The church seeks to sell it in a timely but orderly manner and obviously at the best price. The church has people involved in the transaction who have business experience and will make sure there will be no games played. No Toboni-like murky intra-office sales at below market prices, no shenanigans of any kind. The sale will represent a rare thing for the neighborhood, a pure arms-length market price.

  3. You better enjoy the sound of traffic, because Divis is loud, loud, loud.
    Oh, and the early-phase construction site next door, and the Town School playground kitty corner.
    Beautiful house…bring your earplugs.
    (yes, been in the house, have you?)

  4. i’ve seen children around the house with the dad. sad the family lost it.
    Really? These have to be about the least sympathetic non-performing borrowers in the city. I’m sure the kids won’t suffer too much in their lives if the family needs to downgrade to a $7M home with 8 bedrooms.

  5. Thanks for the article wrath. Great context. Seems this house bankrupted the former owners as well. It’s a very sad tale. Normally I don’t go for a 16,000+ square foot home but this one is beyond perfect. This would be a $25M+ sale if it was on Broadway. $12.5 seems cheap to me.
    Nice scoop by unwarrantedinlaw on the 2950 Pacific. Seems McGuire will have the listing. Any idea when its coming to market? It’s sort of a stealthy location that actually fronts Broadway but has a flag lot entrance from Pacific. Someone could spend a LOT of money excavating the Broadway side.

  6. What I love about banks: If you can’t sell a house for $10m, put it on the market for $12.5
    [Editor’s Note: Keep in mind that $10,000,000 would have been cash on the courthouse steps and not necessarily free and clear.]

  7. Hey, what do you know. I ran alongside the former owner of this place for a couple miles during the Giants half marathon last summer. So I’m assuming the family still lives locally. She had forgotten to wear her watch so I paced her for a while. She ended up smoking me by about three minutes. And I’m no slouch at that distance.

  8. I grew up around the corner — on Scott Street between Pacific and Jackson — during the mid to late 1960s. (Then my parents went through a rather spectacular bankruptcy, divorce, and related calamities; no one should read that first sentence and wish he or she had had my childhood.) Anyway, at that time this house was completely dilapidated and abandoned; the neighborhood kids, including me, used to break into the completely untended and overgrown backyard and play there. I remember my dad saying to me that he and a neighbor had considered buying the house to improve its blighted appearance a bit for the sake of the neighbornood and as a long-term investment. But that never happened — see the second sentence above. If only . . . .

  9. It took the sheriff’s one afternoon to get the tenants out.
    [Editor’s Note: There was plenty of legal wrangling leading up to the lockout, not to mention after. And if you’re seriously interested in understanding, you might want to take a look at the history of liens on the property as well.]

  10. eddy, come on.
    You know very well that an owner, either the bank or the new owner if it was purchased on the court house steps while it was still occupied by the borrowers, would not be able to snap their fingers and get the sheriff to evict the occupants in a short time period. It may well have taken “one afternoon”, but the process to get to that one afternoon took several months at a minimum, and if it took two years of wrangling during diligent prosecution of an unlawful detainer case by the bank, you shouldn’t be surprised.

  11. I’m just saying that at $10M on the steps this would have been a steal even with the hassle of getting rid of the current tenants. Plus, I suspect that it would be easier for an individual to evict them than it was for the bank.

  12. I’m going to buy this place and put a life-sized wax figure of Leonardo Dicaprio at the top of those stairs so I can reenact the final scene from Titanic every time I come home.

  13. If you have the cash to buy this place, you may be able to get the real DiCaprio to stand on top of the stairs all day.

  14. i’ve seen children around the house with the dad. sad the family lost it.
    “Really? These have to be about the least sympathetic non-performing borrowers in the city. I’m sure the kids won’t suffer too much in their lives if the family needs to downgrade to a $7M home with 8 bedrooms.”
    Anytime a child is forced out of their familiar bed/room by the financial mishaps of their parents is SAD.
    p.s. bravo Denis for best line of the day.

  15. OMG, what we’re seeing here is a first.
    A legit Pacific Heights mansione that’s actually priced at a very, very realistic number. Something priced to actually sell within a short amount of time, as opposed to sitting on the market for 3 years only to sell from 30% original ask.
    Well done. One of a kind house, hell of a lot too.

  16. If you can afford this, I think you can come up with a solution to the noise problem. There are special windows designed for that.

  17. ^ No, unless you enclose the entire parcel with “special windows”, you will not solve the noise problem.

  18. Joshua, I’ve been in the house – numerous times. Not going to go into too much detail here other than to say kids had a lot, lot of playdates there. It’s really not noisy. I can’t imagine anyone who has ever truly spent time there would say “bring your earplugs”, that’s just weird. Anyway, unfortunate story all around, but glad to see this home brought back to life. Deserves it.

  19. ^ Young children playing might drown out traffic noise, but that’s not really saying a lot.
    Go to the house right now. Stand at the front door. Stand in any room on the main floor. Stand in almost any of rooms on the second floor, especially those along Divis and Pacific. Stand in the yard. Stand by the pool. You’ll hear traffic, and not just a little.

  20. Just checked out the full site, looks like they updated it.
    Holy moly this place is beautiful!
    This is like a triple lot, right? And like 16K sq feet, with pools and stuff? More than a little out of my price point, but this seems well priced, right? I mean, if we’re knocking traffic noise, how is this different than 2701 Broadway that sold at $27M?

  21. Oh jeez, Joshua. I really don’t care all that much. You sound like you might have been in the house once, I was there countless times up until about 3 years ago. “Stand in the yard you’ll hear traffic” and “bring earplugs” are just a little different, no? Whatever. (;

  22. Yeah, swim in the pool, have a football game in the YARD, play billiards in the game room, or get lost in the guest house, stand at the top of the ladder in the 18′ high kitchen…. whatever. This place is incredible. And $12.5 is a deal. Anyone want to take odds on which will sell first, this home or Kirk’s metallica pad? I think this one for sure. It even has some views, which I didn’t think it had so that helps. I would have loved a Teed Haze fly over on this one though. Gotta step it up Neal!

  23. Dr. Ellingwood was a prominent Doctor and once President of the Cooper Medical School. He was accused of embezzling funds and disgraced. The Cooper Medical School was conveyed to Stanford and became the Stanford Medical School, first in San Francisco and then in Palo Alto. After he died the family left it stand empty for decades. When I was a boy and went to school nearby, we called it the haunted house. Ellingwood’s granddaughter fixed the house up in the 1980s and sold it. So it has had only a couple of owners.

  24. Just to set the record straight: Anne Ellinwood died this year, it was she that saved this house from being torn down in the 70’s and the property sub divided. It was worth 350K at the time in 1976. I worked in that house for a year on and off for Miss Ellinwood, it was an amazing depository of all and everything victorian and saved from a long line of savers. Miss Ellinwood had grand plans for the house and restoring it to its 1893 grander was one of them. She had restored all but the basement and it was a spooky basement at that. I kid you not there was a ghost in that house and other persons that worked there felt the presence too. Anne made many bad decisions in regards to selling and marketing that grand house and in the end lost the house to a predatory lender. In regards to Ellinwood’s grandfather, Dr. C.N. Ellinwood, Anne and her Father, Lathrop Mc Dowell Ellinwood, spent their lives trying to right the wrong that had been done to Dr. Elinwood by the over zealous Dr. Rix and the faculty at the time of Cooper Medical University. A bit of history: The ellinwood property in 1893 comprised all the property the depth of the main property and all the way down to the corner on the lower hill of Divisadero( Clay?) divisadero was the end of the city limits. Dr. Ellinwood kept a carriage and a buggy in the barn / carriage house and a full compliment of horses to pull same including Carl the coachman who’s father was the coachman to the king of sweden. Prior to the new swimming pool being added, there was a Cecile Brunner rose bush that thad been given to Mrs. Charles Norman Ellinwood, Dr. Ellinwoods wife, by Queen Victoria herself. So much history, wonderful stories and now it again will begin a new life to hopefully, three times the charm, find an owner that can hold on to her, 2739 Pacific. Although it was originally 2799 in the record books of and before the 70’s.

  25. Not a very good history for it’s previous owners it looks like (Please Correct me if I’m wrong)..
    Dr. Ellinwood, the original owner was accused of embezzeling Money from Cooper College… which eventually lead to his financial downfall…
    Anne Ellinwood went Bankrupt trying to Preserve this home.
    The previous owners, though riding high with their hedge fund back in the 90’s got the rug pulled from under them with the economy in the 2000’s after living in this home,and spending $10M in renovations – Eventually forced out recently….
    i’m not a big believer in “luck” but with a negative history stacked up as this one it’s hard to look the other way.

  26. Sounds like the perfect house to use as the setting for “Financial Horror Story”, a rip-off of American Horror Story but mixing ghosts of people and ghosts of money that has died in the house.

  27. say what you want haters but the ousted owners did an absolute perfection job of restoration. truly a gift to the city that they didn’t gut it and ‘modernize’ it beyond recognition. i only hope the new owners have lots of kids (and lotsa coin) who can enjoy it for a long, long time.

  28. I think someone needs to have a talk with the ghost. Obviously the ghost doesn’t need or want the perfect house and it may never be happy till it gets what it wants.

  29. Hi Everyone –
    It’s nice to see the house featured on here. The room by room descriptions are now up on the site, and I will have floor plans up by the end of the day.
    Eddy – We’ll work on getting the aerial fly over, good call.
    Jose V – There’s actually an owner between Anne Ellinwood and the most recent owners.
    Needless to say we’re very excited about the listing. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

  30. Would have been great if this place got the same level of restoration but also got discretely divided into apartments. The real moral of the financial story behind this place is that you bring on you own disaster by taking on too much house.

  31. well, I’m a hater (I much prefer the succinct term “deadbeat” to wordy phrases such as “non-performing borrower”), but I have to laud the previous owners for the restoration work they did on this house (I’m still confused about whether the foreclosed-on-and-evicted previous owners were responsible for the restoration work). While I haven’t seen it in person, the work looks superb. I can easily think of other projects in the city that squandered borrowed money to much worse effect.
    If there’s another edition of the Painted Ladies series of coffee table books published in the future, I fully expect to see this place prominently featured.

  32. Anyone know the story behind the Willis Polk-designed house at 948 Lombard? The listing describes it as ‘dilapidated’ and, since I can’t find any interior shots, I’m guessing that must be accurate. Google street view just shows an overgrown lot with no sign of a house!

  33. [Sam],
    congrats on the listing. Despite the history of it’s previous owners, it’s still a spectacular home.. Best of luck to you… when is the open house?

  34. This is an incredible house…
    Gotta love a house with a fireplace in the bathroom…a “garden kitchen” and its own “massage room” amongst a myriad of other cool details.
    I bet it would be pretty spooky to be alone in that house at night.
    I wonder…does the ghost add value?

  35. I did not recognize this house at first, but I had some contact with Anne Ellinwood shortly after she sold it. It is Ms. Ellinwood who should be credited with the restoration, which exceeded professional standards.
    Subsequent owners changed the house to their liking, so it has lost some of its historical value.
    From what Ms. Ellinwood told me, the house sat empty for a very long time after her father died. There was some damage from vandals, and when she started her work, there was only one electrial outlet in the entire house.
    The house was crammed with historic memorabilia, including one of a kind medical models and teaching tools that were to go to Stanford. Other items were to go to various family members and some to Butterfield’s to be auctioned.
    Sadly, Ms. Ellinwood hired a mover who paid no attention to her instructions. Many of the items in the house were lost, stolen, or broken. Some were recovered by divers of the Butterfield’s dumpster. None of the historic items made it to Stanford. There was litigation, but it never amounted to anything. The loss of those items, which had been in her family for so long, must have been sickening, but she had no documentation of the verbal instructions she gave the mover, and he took advantage of her trust. The guy was a real rat.
    Ms. Ellinwood told me that she financed the restoration by getting a loan on the house, but it was in the 80’s, when interest rates were in the double digits. I don’t remember the rate she told me, but it was shocking.
    At one time, she wanted the City to purchase the house and use it as San Francisco’s official home for the mayor. That would have been perfect, with all the rooms for entertaining and events, but it was an unrealistic dream.
    Another plan was to have San Francisco Heritage purchase the home to use as a second museum (along with their Hass Lilienthal House on Franklin Street) and give Ms. Ellinwood a life estate in the home. Obviously, that didn’t happen, either.
    She also had problems with fights between the people who were supposed to be helping her.
    As she told it to me, she ended up selling it to new owners (not losing it to a lender) and was not happy with the changes they made to the home. Of course, it was their home, not an historic museum, but if you want modern things like a pool, why purchase a historically perfect home when there are so few (if any) in this condition?
    Ms. Ellinwood was also one of the founders of the city of Tiburon and served on its first city council. I didn’t realize she had died. Perhaps someone could find her obit and post it here.
    Thanks to the original poster for attaching the name and history to the property. I saw the initial post and story and didn’t make the connection.

  36. Here is the link to Anne Ellinwood’s death notice in the Chronicle:
    It is so sad that after all that work on the house, she would be so disappointed by the loss of its contents and the lack of any future protection for its historical detail. But at least the house was saved.
    As for the money she spent restoring the house, she told me that she had no regrets. “I’m not the type to take cruises,” she said to me.

  37. The church has people involved in the transaction who have business experience and will make sure there will be no games played. No Toboni-like murky intra-office sales at below market prices, no shenanigans of any kind. The sale will represent a rare thing for the neighborhood, a pure arms-length market price.
    are you suggesting something like 2849 Pacific? any others??

  38. Kent, if there are in fact ghosts present, a buyer that can afford a $12.5M mansion can also afford to pay the honorarium required for a priest to come out and bless the place or do whatever else is necessary to stop the haunting. In fact, the buyers should probably write a pre-close contingency for that into their offer.
    If the priest is driven out of the house by a swarm of flies during the blessing, then that’s a hint and a half that it wouldn’t be a good idea to close escrow.

  39. In the interests of further correcting the mis-information relative to the house’s history I offer the following.
    Thank you to those who have already sought to show that the story is more nuanced than some early posters are aware.
    1. The builder of the home, CN Ellinwood, was the center of a major controversy at the turn of the 20th century at Cooper Medical College; a mystery which has never been conclusively solved but he broke no law nor was ever accused of embezzelment as one writer states.
    The founder of Cooper Medical College and Lane Hospital (which was located in the block bounded by Sacramento, Clay, Webster and Buchannan),Dr. Levi Cooper Lane, selected Dr. Ellinwood–who had been associated with the institutions from their inceptions–as his successor. Dr. Lane died in early 1902. Dr. Lane who had acquired the land and built the buildings from his private funds, as philanthropic acts, left his entire estate to his wife. Mrs Lane, died a few months later at the end of the summer of 1902. At that time, California State law did not allow any person to bequeath more than one third of their estate to charity. Mrs. Lane’s will left one third to Cooper and two thirds to Dr. Ellinwood.
    Following conflicting versions of what was said by various Cooper Board Members and Dr. Ellinwood, by 1907 the Cooper Board, led by Edward Taylor(and interestingly during the time he had been selected as the interim Mayor of San Francisco following the conviction and imprisonmnent of Mayor Schmidt), removed Dr. Ellinwood from the Presidency. The Faculty in turn promptly removed Dr. Ellinwood from his teaching position as well. In the press coverage which followed, the Cooper Board charged that Mrs. Lane had intended Dr. Ellinwood to merely be a conduit to Cooper of the assets and funds that he had been bequeathed. The slowness with which he turned over assets to construct a memorial medical library, they charged, had demoinstated his intention not to do so. They also charged he had been unsupportive of the annual lecture series, one of Cooper’s more visable aspects.
    They could produce no proof, a fact complicated by the fact that if they had, or if Dr. Ellinwood had pubically agreed that this was Mrs Lane’s intention, the will could apparently have been legally overturned by distant relations of the Lanes who would have directly benefitted and had already sought to extract a share of the Lane’s sizable estate, something that all involved parties knew Dr. and Mrs. Lane strongly opposed.
    In the public news coverage which followed Dr. Ellinwood stated that Mrs. Lane had given him no direction and that he had been surprised by the bequest. He pointed out that he had personally purchased a major medical library in the East to add to Cooper’s collections and funded the most recent lecture series. One of the two attorneys Mrs. Lane named as her Executors publically confirmed Dr. Ellinwood’s assertion. Dr Ellinwood speculated that Edward Taylor had himself hoped to inherit some portion of the Lane estate and that perhaps his efforts to ingratiate himself to Mrs.Lane had backfired, an assertion for which there is some circumstantial evidence. He also asserted that Mr. Taylor opposed the Stanford merger and was unhappy with Dr. Ellinwood’s pursuit of it, a claim Taylor denied. The Cooper Board and the Executors publically acknowledged that there was no basis for any legal action against Dr. Ellinwood; that Mrs. Lane had in fact left two thirds of her estate to him with no conditions and that it was his to do with as he chose.
    A merger with Stanford to become their medical department was an objective that had been pursued by the Board of Cooper and Dr. Ellinwood during his term as President. It was seen as inevitable if Cooper was to sustain the high quality professional medical education which it had provided to that point and for which it had long enjoyed respect. The merger was completed in the years following Dr.Ellinwood’s departure from Cooper. First Cooper and then Stanford held undivided proportional interests of numberous tracts of land with Dr. Ellinwood which had been inherited from Mrs. Lane and this required an ongoing limited relationship between CNE and the Institutions for some years afterward.
    Dr. Ellinwood who did not suffer financial ruin, died in early 1916. His widow in 1929. He is less well known as Director of the first Marine Hospital Service facility in San Francisco, part of the origins of the federal Public Health Service and an early advocate of public health facilities, including San Francisco’s early general hospital.
    This very interesting story, has unfortunately not be fully treated by any modern study which had access to all extant records. The most recent re-tellings, including an online publication, repeat old unproven biases.
    Cooper Medical College and its adjacent Lane Hospital is the direct ancestor not only to Stanford Medical School, but to the Pacific Medical Center whose forerunner, Pacific Presbyterian, acquired the property and structures. The remaining structure which was part of the Cooper/Lane legacy of public philanthrophy stands at the SE corner of Sacramento and Webster, the structure originally commissioned as the Memorial Library to Dr. Lane called for in the bequest to Cooper Medical College in the will of Mrs. Lane.
    2. 2739, now 2799 Pacific was inherited by his granddaughter following the death of her father in 1977. She immediately moved into and began a long held dream to restore the long unoccupied house and garden. This effort became her primary focus until 1995 when she lost the house thru foreclosure. The house was first sold by the foreclosing lender in early 1996.
    3. Miss Ellinwood acting as her own general contractor, undertook major renovation of the property, but choose to restore it in a manner which retained the majority of its victorian/edwardian features, aesthetics and character. Miss Ellinwood applied and received City Landmark status for the house, carriage house and grounds.
    The legal limitations of the ordinance prevented her from including interior features. Many of the original aspects of the interior of the house which she restored were not likely to survive new buyers who can be expected to desire a more modern vision of luxury. The house and carriage house subsequently underwent not insubstantial modifications and re-renovation by the ultimate buyers. Changes affecting exterior aspects at that time were required to be approved by the City’s then Landmark’s Preservation Advisory Board (today the Historic Preservation Commission who will continue to have jurisdiction over exterior aspects of the property) and the changes made at that time were consistent with those approvals.

  40. Dear facts, just the facts please,
    Thank you for setting the record straight.
    If anything, my aunt was too devoted to preserving this part of San Francisco’s architectural heritage. She cared greatly for San Francisco, its history, and her family’s contributions to its heritage. Sadly, her obsession left her broke and unable to complete her plans to have the house preserved in perpetuity.
    San Francisco’s attractiveness and character is attributable in part to an honoring of the past, in tradition and architecture, while nurturing social, cultural and economic change. Folks like my aunt have given the city an architectural heritage in which future generations of San Franciscan’s can take deserved pride.
    I hope 2799’s future owners appreciate what they have and will preserve as much of the craftsmanship as they can.
    The house’s exterior may have looked decrepit prior to my aunt’s renovation effort, but inside it remained a temple to fine woodworking. You will never see the extraordinary amount and standard of detail and refinement put into the interior finish work in a modern day mansion. Would a present day owner employ a renowned European cabinet maker full-time for two years to do nothing but carve interior features? Dr. C.N. Ellinwood did.
    Long live the old girl!

  41. In Escrow. I think someone is going to steal this place. Despite the lack of view and the nay-sayers nagging on noise from Divis; this home is incredible and I wish the buyers the best of luck. Neal is having a nice year so far.

  42. Such a wonderful home. This is a bargain in the long run. Congrats to buyers. Neil is having a monster year and now has the jackson street listing for 15m.

  43. Ironic that his home sold for the amount roughly owed to the bank. Maybe the original family got it back?

  44. unusual socket site initially states “multiple bidders” bid on its site but then redacts???
    coming in at “$11.5” and less than the “$12.5 ask” doesn’t make sense with term, “multiple bidders”
    unbiased?? – don’t think so
    [Editor’s Note: There were multiple offers, a fact we reported and never “redacted,” and the sale price was $11,500,000. Try thinking again.]

  45. dougie, not sure what you’re having trouble with here.
    You can have multiple bids under ask. Happens all the time, not a tough concept, lol…

  46. “You can have multiple bids under ask. Happens all the time, not a tough concept, lol…”
    Where were You Four Months Ago 😉
    “I’m not in the market to buy a car, but if someone offers me one at 30% off, I’d take it.”
    No you wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be worth the risk or hassle. This is just a ridiculous analogy. The only thing more ridiculous would be to assume that there are people out there waiting in the shadows to pounce on underpriced real estate in this market.
    Posted by: eddy at February 24, 2012 9:27 AM

  47. zzzzzz…..I don’t know where I was four months ago, not stuck to the site every day, you know. And I’m not eddy, so whatever.
    But while you’re talking about what takes place in SF real estate, I’m actually doing it. They had multiple offers, I know this for a fact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *