As a mystery fan, I have a strong affinity for old buildings and houses (and the secrets they might keep), so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an amazing Craigslist ad the other day for an apartment in the historical Clarke Mansion in The Castro in San Francisco. I wasn’t familiar with the mansion when I read the listing, so what caught my eye instead was the following line in the ad’s description: “The most unique part of the apartment is the circular bedroom, which is actually in a turret and is reached by a spiral staircase.” A bedroom inside a turret?! It’s kind of a dream of mine to live in a house with a turret, so I had to know more about this unusual apartment offer!
After doing a little more research, I learned that the mansion was built in 1892 by an Irish man named Alfred “Nobby” Clarke who originally came to America in search of gold. While “Nobby” was apparently quite the character with a very colorful history of his own, I’ll stick to describing the massive and expensive home he built. Construction cost $100,000, over two million dollars today according to this inflation calculator. I can’t find any info on the square footage, but the home was originally built on a 17 acre plot. The style of the home is considered to be “Baroque Queen-Anne,” and is full of charming details including stained glass, scalloped shingles, and of course, those beautiful turrets! Clarke himself passed away in 1902, and the mansion was converted into a hospital in 1904. While most of the surrounding homes were destroyed when the famous 1906 earthquake hit, the Clarke mansion remained intact. The mansion was later converted into apartments, and rooms are now apparently rented out over Craigslist!
The particular apartment being rented in the ad I found appears to be partially located in the largest turret on the back left corner of the mansion. Some of the features listed in the ad:
- Remodeled kitchen w/ granite countertops, new cabinets, pantry and newly refinished hardwood floors
- Rounded living room with 10 windows and high ceiling
- Foyer with built-in bookcase
- Freshly painted and new carpets
- Washer/Dryer in building
It sounds like the apartments themselves have been updated for the modern tenant, though photos of the hallways (as well as the home’s exterior) still look like they retain many of the original features and charms. I’m very curious where that laundry area is located and whether that area has been remodeled.
While doing some Googling, I found a house tour on Apartment Therapy from a couple who lives in the attic apartment of the mansion! The accompanying article gives some insight on what it’s like to live there (mostly aspects that come from living in an attic unit – limited storage, fun nooks and crannies, feels like living in a treehouse!), and the slideshow/gallery shows how the space has been converted into an apartment. This is a cool resource, but I’m still really curious about what the other units must look like. Would some of the apartments that are in more of the core areas of the house have more of the original features, and less drywall?
Although the mansion is a Designated Landmark of San Francisco, it appears that the only way to get a peek inside is to actually live there or know someone who does. I have to say, if I lived in San Francisco I think I would try to get a showing of the apartment even if I had no intention of moving, just to get a glimpse of this amazing mansion!