James Francis Dunn (1874-1921)

Chambord Apartments on Nob Hill in San Francisco Chambord Apartments on Nob Hill
26 June 2010

Little is known about James Francis Dunn.

In August 2019, Wikipedia had a one-line entry: "James Francis Dunn (1874-1921) was an American architect who designed many buildings in San Francisco, California."

An article by Dave Weinstein in the San Francisco Chronicle provided an appreciation of several of Dunn's buildings along with some autobiographical information. According to Mr. Weinstein, Dunn was born and raised by a widowed mother in an Irish, working-class neighborhood South of Market. He taught himself architecture. He mastered Parisian architecture by studying the latest journals. In later years, he traveled throughout the United States, and probably visited France.

San Francisco Planning Department Landmark Designation Case Report 2016-010894DES, dated 15 March 2017, enumerated architectural features which characterize Dunn's style:

"Dunn is best is known as a designer of multi-unit residential buildings in the Beaux-Arts style. His designs often featured curved balconies and bay windows, delicate ironwork, and exuberant ornamentation, including animal and human faces. Decorative details like cartouches and shields are common. Dunn used eagles or phoenixes to support balconies and cornices. Many of his buildings have a broad, heavily ornamented cornice and a rusticated first story topped with a belt course, defining the ground level from the upper, full-living levels.

"He also experimented with Art Nouveau, Mission Revival, Moorish, Classical Revival, French Renaissance, and Baroque styles."

Dunn's most famous building is the Chambord Apartment Building on Nob Hill.

You can view Dunn's buildings in chronological order here, or use a link in the following table to visit a specific property.

Name Year Address City Sort Address Sort Name
Residence on Baker Street1904405 Baker StreetSan FranciscoBaker0405Residence on Baker Street
Residence on Central Avenue190591 Central AvenueSan FranciscoCentral0091Residence on Central Avenue
Gaughran House19002731-2735 Folsom StreetSan FranciscoFolsom2731Gaughran House
Apartment Building on Franklin Street19002415-17 Franklin StreetSan FranciscoFranklin2415Apartment Building on Franklin Street
Alhambra Apartments 1913860 Geary StreetSan FranciscoGeary0860Alhambra Apartments
Residence on Haight Street19061677-81 Haight StreetSan FranciscoHaight1677Residence on Haight Street
Apartment Building on Hyde Street1920625 Hyde StreetSan FranciscoHyde0625Apartment Building on Hyde Street
Apartment Building on Leavenworth Street19101201-19 Leavenworth StreetSan FranciscoLeavenworth1201Apartment Building on Leavenworth Street
Marchbank Apartments1917630 Leavenworth StreetSan FranciscoLeavenworth0630Marchbank Apartments
Bliss Flats19011347 McAllister StreetSan FranciscoMcAllister 1347Bliss Flats
Apartment Building on Pine Street1912961 Pine StreetSan FranciscoPine 0961Apartment Building on Pine Street
Apartment Building on Pine Street19091201 Pine StreetSan FranciscoPine 1201Apartment Building on Pine Street
Residence on Pine Street19091250 Pine StreetSan FranciscoPine 1250Residence on Pine Street
Ross-Early Apartments,1913798 Post StreetSan FranciscoPost 0798Ross-Early Apartments,
Chambord Apartments19211298 Sacramento StreetSan FranciscoSacramento 1298Chambord Apartments
Residence on Vallejo Street19012250 Vallejo StreetSan FranciscoVallejo 2250Residence on Vallejo Street
Apartment Building on Webster Street19112411 Webster StreetSan FranciscoWebster 2411Apartment Building on Webster Street
405 Baker Street in San Francisco
405 Baker Street
401 and 405 Baker Street in San Francisco 401 and 405 Baker Street
401 and 405 Baker Street
Photographed 31 July 2014

401 Baker Street, architect unknown, is a classic Queen Anne Victorian built around 1891. The house is listed in Here Today: San Francisco's Architectural Heritage and described as "unusually large and heavily ornamented in the spirit of the times [with] two Queen Anne corner towers, each expressing individuality in shape, size and culmination.

405 Baker Street, built in 1904, was designed by Dunn in an eclectic Mission Revival style.

The Haight-Ashbury District is characterized by the juxtaposition of grand residences in many architectural styles popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

91 Central Avenue
Photographed 31 July 2014
1677-1681 Haight Street
Photographed 31 July 2014
2250 Vallejo Street
Built 1901
Photographed 3 September 2019

"Opulence worthy of fine stone is seen in this Baroque Revival house built entirely of wood and plaster. Especially notable is the molded frieze - deep enough to incorporate the top floor windows."

From Here Today: San Francisco's Architectural Heritage, Chronicle Books, 1968

2411 Webster Street
Built 1914
Photographed 2 August 2012

"The original owner had this Baroque Revival building copied after one that struck her imagination in Paris. The recessed ground openings give an urbane effect."

From Here Today: San Francisco's Architectural Heritage, Chronicle Books, 1968

Architectural Styles | Architects