National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

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National Register #100007846
St. Francis Wood Historic District

From 1904 to 1920, more than a dozen residence parks were developed in San Francisco including, Presidio Terrace (1904), Jordan Park (1906), West Clay Park (1910), Ingleside Terraces (1911), Mission Terrace (1911), Forest Hill and Forest Hill Extension (1912), St. Francis Wood (1912), Lincoln Manor (1913), Sea Cliff (1913), Westwood Park (1917), Balboa Terrace (1920), and Westwood Highlands (1924). St. Francis Wood is one of the largest and most elaborately planned of these residence parks.

On 28 March 1914, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a Duncan McDuffie lecture at UC Berkeley entitled "The Development of Residence Subdivisions Under Wise Restrictions." McDuffie said in part:

‘Building restrictions are now so general and their advantages so clearly seen that a premium is paid for restricted property.... The nuisances such as factories, laundries, undertaking establishments and the like, which often ruin a residence section, are barred from the property. Stores, flats and apartment houses are forbidden. Front fences, if any, must be no higher than four feet, and no fences higher than six feet are anywhere permitted. All houses must be set back from both front and side street and from the rear lines of lots. The minimum cost of a house is from $3,500 to $5,000. Various aliens are excluded from property ownership.”

The the street and block plan, the pedestrian circulation system and the public greenspace were designed by the Olmsted Brothers. (Their father, Frederick Law Olmsted, designed Central Park in New York City.) The Olmsted firm paid particular attention to St. Francis Boulevard with its tree-lined planting strips, formal landscape structures, and grand houses.

John Galen Howard designed most of the landscape structures based on the prevailing Beaux-Arts aesthetic of the era. Prior to Although Howard was steeped in the teachings of the École des Beaux-Arts, he also drew inspiration from Spanish and Mediterranean sources, California’s Mission architecture and the Arts and Crafts movement.

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