Sunday, July 22, 2012

Special only-in-S.F. homes on the market

Carolyn Said
Updated 03:54 p.m., Sunday, July 22, 2012

The woodsy retreat of a writer who captured San Francisco in all its wacky splendor. A landmark Painted Lady on Postcard Row. A socialite's "mini Versailles" on Billionaire's Row. A Gold Coast mansion with echoes of "Downton Abbey."

A city as storied as San Francisco is filled with houses that are renowned in their own right. Every so often, some of them go on the market, offering tantalizing glimpses inside and chances to fantasize about inhabiting a legend.

Some current and recent listings illustrate the breadth of residences with historic, cultural and architectural significance. Some buyers are famous themselves, presaging new chapters in the homes' sagas: social media moguls, a trailblazing chef.

Many mega-mansions in the city sit on the market "for ages," said Sally Kuchar, editor of real estate website Curbed SF. "But now there is a flush of tech cash, just like the first boom, and people are buying these big abodes because they can."

Maupin lived here
-- 27 Belmont Ave., home of author Armistead Maupin (

Maupin, the literary icon whose "Tales of the City" series held a mirror to San Francisco from the 1970s to the present, is moving to Santa Fe with his husband, Christopher Turner. Their Parnassus Heights three-bedroom Craftsman just hit the market for $1.198 million, with open houses this weekend.

"I loved being able to write on that top floor and walk out on the deck and just stare into Sutro Forest," said Maupin, who penned three novels during his two-decade residence there, including the semiautobiographical "The Night Listener," which describes the house as "three narrow stories notched into the wooded slope."

"The house has grown and changed organically over the years," Maupin said. "It feels like my handwriting all over the place. Whenever I got a check, if it was a good check, I could buy myself a door. (If smaller) I would buy, say, a doorknob - not just any old one, but a hammered copper doorknob from an artisan.

"Many of my friends have visited me there over the years and their memory is stamped on it for me," he said. "People connected with the first 'Tales of the City' miniseries: Laura (Linney) and Olympia (Dukakis). Ian McKellen once stayed and left a note: 'Gandalf slept here with Magneto.'

"I hope it goes to someone who loves it well and long as I have done."


  1. I don't know why it makes me sad knowing you're moving away. I'm sure you will love Santa Fe though!

  2. I come to Santa Fe at least once a year. If I see you there I won't approach you, but I might stare a bit......
    Re-reading your series right now.
    Thanks for sharing your talent!