National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco
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.
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
Duatre's Store, Monterey
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
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.