National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #84001185: Dallam-Merritt House
2 February 2012
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #84001185
Dallam-Merritt House
2355 Washington Street Between Buchanan and Webster
Built 1870

It seems appropriate that I photographed this magnificent house on Ground Hog Day, a magical day associated with time and shadows and things seldom glimpsed.

As best I can tell, there are at most eight hours each year when the façade of the Dallam-Merritt House is visible. For most of the year, it is blocked by the leafy trees. All year, it is blocked by a parked car or by something bulkier. However, twice a month, on the first and third Thursday, parking is prohibited for two hours to allow mechanical street sweeping.

That leaves four hours in January and four in February to admire this building.

The Dallam-Merritt House is an unusual example of Second Empire and Italianate styles, especially remarkable for the shape of its Mansard roof. It is one of San Francisco's very few surviving luxury residences built about 1870.

The house was originally located at 528 Sutter Street but was moved to its current location in 1900. All buildings in the 500 block of Sutter Street were destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

San Francisco Street Trees

Consider Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey). Lovely building.

Consider the Taj Mahal, the Doge's Palace, the Parthenon, the Lincoln Memorial, the Sagrada Familia, the Winter Palace of the Tsar, the Hagia Sophia, San Francisco's own City Hall and Opera House and Legion of Honor.

Lovely buildings, all. Essential to their appeal is that they stand unobstructed to be admired from any angle and at any distance.

Over the past twenty years or so, many of San Francisco's most distinctive buildings have gone into hiding behind ill-considered street trees. Except for the Spreckels Mansion Spite Hedge which clearly flips the bird to San Francisco, most of these trees were planted in good faith to beautify the streetscape, filter the air, increase property values; but like the cute SPCA puppy who grows up to be a two hundred pound mastiff, many of our street trees would be more at home in the country than the city.

Here is a short list of some striking San Francisco buildings which I wish were more clearly visible. I'm sure the Hop-On Hop-Off tourists would enjoy them too. They can see an ineptly pruned ficus or an ailing plane tree anywhere.

Buildings that Moved

It's not just that the people of the American West are restless, the buildings themselves sometimes pack up and move when - for one reason or another - the neighborhood no longer suits them or the neighbors no longer want them or opportunity waits down the road.

And when buildings remain in place, they are often searching for their identities.

Acting Superintendent's Office, Yosemite
Alford-Nielson House, Ferndale
Alpine Hotel, Markleeville
Ashland Depot Hotel, Ashland, Oregon
Bagby Stationhouse, El Portal

Bayview Hotel, Aptos
Bridgeport Elementary School, Mono County
Carter House, Ashland, Oregon
Christian Church, Gilroy
Chuck's Railroad Room, Westwood
Colfax Freight Depot (Moved Twice), Colfax

Commodore Watkins House, Atherton
Coyle-Foster Barn, Shasta State Historic Park
Croll Building, Alameda
Dallam-Merritt House, San Francisco
Errea House, Tehachapi
Galarneaux House, Sacramento

Glendale School (Moved Twice), Sparks, Nevada
Gray's Station, Truckee
Hostess House, Palo Alto
Hodgdon Homestead Cabin, Yosemite
House at 2214 Clay Street, San Francisco
Hutton House, Saratoga

Independence Hall, Woodside
J & T Basque Restaurant, Gardnerville, NV
Jax Truckee Diner (Moved Twice), Truckee
Jorgensen Studio, Yosemite
Lake Mansion (Moved Twice), Reno
Lathrop House, Redwood City

LeConte Memorial Lodge, Yosemite
Little Church on the Hill, Oakhurst
Mansion House Hotel, Watsonville
Marcus Books and Jimbo's Bop City, San Francisco
McCredie House, Central Point, Oregon

Methodist Episcopal Church, Placerville
Migliavacca Mansion, Napa
Milton Masonic Hall, Milton
Moab Cabin, Moab, Utah
Mt. Buckingham School, Darrah

Nevada-California-Oregon Railway Depot, Alturas
Old Log Jail (Moved Twice), Markleeville
Old Mammoth Saloon (Moved Twice), Mammoth Lakes
Old North San Juan School, North San Juan
Old St. Patrick's Church (Moved Twice), San Francisco

Perry's Dry Goods, Gardnerville, NV
Phelps House (Moved Twice), San Francisco
Rengstorff House, Mountain View
Reno Arch (Moved Five Times), Reno
Roper House, Ashland, Oregon

St. James Catholic Church, Georgetown
Sylvester House , San Francisco
Tubbs Cordage Company, San Francisco
Tucker House, Martinez
Twenty Mile House, Cromberg

United Methodist Church, Nevada City
Wood House, Modesto
Yosemite Transportation Company
Yosemite Valley Chapel

Of the buildings and structures we have visited, the original Reno Arch holds the record for number of moves. It has been moved five times since it was built in 1926.

Jax Truckee Diner holds the distance title. The building moved from New Jersry to Pennsylvanis in 1948, then from Pennsylvania to Califonia in 1992.

Probably the most ambitious relocation occurred on July 4th 1904, when the Southern Pacific Railroad loaded most of the town of Wadsworth, Nevada, onto rail cars and transported the town thirty miles west to create a new town which became known as Sparks.

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