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Cow Hollow Secret Garden Home with Panoramic Bay and Golden Gate Views
Location: 2516 Union Street (Between Divisadero and Scott St.)
Lot Size: 45’ x 137.5’ (approx. 6,188 sq. ft.)
Originally Built: 1895; Renovated: 2019
Abstract: Rare offering - Panoramic Bay and Golden Gate views combine with an enormous garden to create an extraordinary sanctuary in the heart of Cow Hollow. Sparkling Golden Gate and Bay views form the backdrop to this exquisitely renovated Contemporary Arts and Crafts home in a lush garden setting. A subtle and cohesive palette - from the kitchen and bath finishes to the bleached oak floors and muted paint colors throughout - creates a tranquil environment. The bay view may be enjoyed from every level of this semi-detached, 4-story home with elevator. Featuring a flexible floor plan, the main level showcases an open kitchen-great room with an adjacent dining room or office, plus a half bath. There are 2-3BD/2BA on the 2nd level, 1BD/1BA plus Office/Media/Family Room on the top level. The lower level has a large room with full bath that may be used as a guest room/au pair suite/family room/playroom/media room. Every level has an accessible deck and there are multiple garden terraces and patios. One car fits inside the garage (equipped with a convenient half bath) and one additional car may park in the driveway off street. (Furnished photos have been virtually staged.)
Description: A custom gate at the sidewalk’s edge introduces the contemporary interiors beyond. The gate opens to the secret garden courtyard where noted architect Albert C. Schweinfurth’s classic Arts and Crafts façade features a sheltering porch with overhanging eaves and Redwood tree-trunk supports suggestive of the Swedenborgian faith’s ‘correspondence’ to spiritual knowledge. The protected porch frames the glass front door which gives an immediate ‘glimpse through’ the home to the sparkling bay views which are the mainstay of this beautiful home. The entry foyer, with a convenient built-in bench, presents the pristine white oak floors with radiant heat showcased throughout. The magnificent great room with bay and Alcatraz views overlooks the extraordinary garden. This room may be furnished and arranged in various ways and if desired, may incorporate distinct sitting and dining areas. The gas fireplace has a bespoke concrete mantel surround. The east side of the great room houses the exquisite gourmet kitchen with custom quartzite slab counters and flooring, custom cabinets with custom slat design cabinet at island, and custom stainless-steel shelving. In addition, there are Dornbracht fixtures and high-end stainless-steel appliances which include a Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator, U-Line wine refrigerator, and a Wolf microwave, oven, and cooktop. Picture windows across the north side frame the views, and two sets of French doors open to the view deck which runs the width of the home and is ideal for al fresco dining and entertaining. Adjacent to the kitchen is a sunny room which may be used as a formal dining room, office, or library. It opens to the south entry patio. Completing this level is the guest powder room with decorative Italian floor tiles, Duravit porcelain sink inset into a stone vanity with a Grohe Concetto faucet.
Second Level: The elevator or stairs arrive at the second level. The luxurious primary suite with sitting room comprises the entire north side and features spectacular views of the bay, the Palace of Fine Arts, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Currently shown as a two-room suite with solid doors between the sitting room and sleeping room, the doors may be closed permanently or walled-in to create a third bedroom on this level. Both ‘rooms’ have a set of French doors that open to the view deck. The sitting room has a fireplace with a stunning, multi-faceted mantel surround. Ensuite to the primary bedroom is a large closet and a spa-style bath with a Kohler Tea-for-Two tub, Duravit double porcelain sinks set into a stone vanity, and a view shower with pivot glass enclosure and Grohe Euphoria 3-spray showerhead. Muted tiles in a harmonious variety of formats lend a Zen-like feeling to this luxurious bath.
The second bedroom enjoys sunny, southern exposure and peaceful outlooks into the sheltering trees of the south entry garden. This bedroom accesses the full bath off the hall which has a Mr. Steam shower with Grohe 3-spray showerhead, Duravit porcelain sink in a stone vanity fitted with a Kohler Concetto faucet.
Third Level: The third level offers a spectacular room with flexible spaces to suit a variety of uses. This dramatic, open room with soaring, gabled and windowed ceilings, and spectacular Golden Gate views makes a delightful family room and/or office/library/media room. Adjacent, a small bedroom is perfect as a guest room or as an office. There is a full bath off the hall with glass enclosed stall shower and stone topped vanity.
Lower Level: The lower level affords direct access to the garage (which has a half bath inside the garage ideal for tradespeople) and once inside the home, the elevator is conveniently located in the hall. A large multi-purpose room with an en suite bath and a walk-in closet may function as an au-pair or guest suite, a media room or playroom, or any combination. French doors open to the deck with access to the park-like garden. Completing this level is a large laundry area.
The garden is extra wide and deep with a variety of specimen trees and plants, and always a shady or sunny spot. There is an upper terrace as well as a sunny, lower flagstone patio.
Design, Entitlement, Construction Management: NOA Design + Construction.
General Contractor: DeMattei Construction, Inc
Architect of Record: Martinkovic Milford Architects
To Show: Shown by appt. only with exclusive listing agent, Janet Schindler, Sotheby’s International Realty. 415-265-5994.
Cow Hollow – One of San Francisco’s most coveted neighborhoods. 2516 Union Street enjoys an exceptional location only 3 blocks away from the chic Union Street shopping district which begins with Rose’s Café and continues east to encompass block after block of fashionable cafés and boutiques. To the north 3-4 blocks is popular Chestnut Street, the main shopping street in the Marina, lined with eclectic restaurants and shops. The Presidio National Park is also close by giving access to its 1,491 acres of woodlands and shorelines. The Presidio is a national historic landmark (and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) – one of the largest urban parks in the world and contains a mature forest of pine, cypress, and eucalyptus trees which the army began planting in the Presidio in the 1880’s. Virtually every recreational alternative is possible in the park along with some nice restaurants.
Albert Schweinfurth and the Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts home at 2516 Union Street was originally designed by Albert C. Schweinfurth (1864-1900) in 1896 for Mary Bradford. This distinctive shingled home was once owned by Walter Landor, acclaimed brand designer and founder of the internationally renowned firm, Landor & Fitch. The most recent owners completely modernized the home with interiors reflecting today’s contemporary aesthetic and lifestyle while retaining the historic Arts and Crafts façade.
The Arts and Crafts movement in California has one of its earliest roots in the Swedenborgian church (formerly the church of New Jerusalem) in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. The faith was named after Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688 to 1772), a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian who spent many of his later years articulating a philosophy of nature. According to Swedenborg, natural objects hold specific, spiritual significance. The interconnected relationship of the spiritual and natural realms was expressed in his theory of ‘correspondences.’ Swedenborg extended this belief to architecture which he considered a divine art. “The designs of heaven’s buildings,” Swedenborg wrote, “are so perfect that you would say they represent the very essence of the art; and small wonder, since the art of architecture comes from heaven.” Many in his own time, and since, considered Swedenborg to be a mystic, an attribute that would have appeal to late 19th century followers of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The principal figure to bring Swedenborgian teachings to the Bay Area was Joseph Worcester. As a Swedenborgian, Worcester believed that God is reflected in all of nature. His Swedenborgian Church in Pacific Heights was one of the earliest projects realized by a group of artists, architects, and designers in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts ideals. In 1894 and 1895, artists William Knight and Mary Curtis Robinson, and architects Albert C. Schweinfurth, A. Page Brown, and Bernard Maybeck collaborated on the church under the inspiration of the Reverend Joseph Worcester who was also an amateur architect. Together they launched the Arts & Crafts “simple home/building with nature” movement in California, thereby helping to move the rest of the country in the same direction. It has been said that Worcester “though he was not a trained architect, produced work of architectural rightness and dignity.” At its core, the Arts and Crafts movement advocated a search for a way of life that was true, contemplative, and filled with essences rather than superficialities. For example, the ultimate concern was not a perfectly designed and handmade bowl, but how that bowl could contribute to a proper life.
In describing the church, Edward R. Bowley wrote (Toward a Simpler Way of Life: The Arts and Crafts Architects of California, edited by Robert Winter): The cool darkness of the passage just inside the church is brief but a suggestion that the cares of the outside world have been left behind. A few steps through this transitional area pulled a visitor to the symbolic second stage of the journey: the light of the unexpectedly vast garden that is sheltered and buttressed high above the sidewalk by the retaining wall. The garden’s landscaping, once matured, became an integral part of the teaching aspect of the church, in whose theology trees correspond to spiritual knowledge.
At 2516 Union St., Albert C. Schweinfurth’s architecture highlights some of the very same principles: The gated entry courtyard which one must pass through before stepping into the home; The low pitched, gabled roof with overhanging eaves reminiscent of a Swiss chalet – a feature of the Arts and Crafts House that became particularly popular – provide that passage of leaving the cares of the world behind; The rustic pillars which represent “not knowledge which leads to some useful work, but knowledge – intelligent understanding of one kind or another – which is useful in itself in helping us to live in safe and orderly ways.” Then there is the light through the house that draws one inside, and the sparkling bay views, as well as the ‘unexpectedly vast garden’ which, according to Swedenborgian spiritual teachings, is a manifestation of God.
Alas, Albert C. Schweinfurth left a small but critically acclaimed architectural legacy when he tragically died of typhus in 1900 at the age of 36. Schweinfurth had worked in Boston before moving to San Francisco late in the 19th century, and his plan for 2516 Union St. combined New England country elements with California materials and San Francisco Bay views – all within the Arts and Crafts Tradition that he helped bring to the Bay Area.
Janet Schindler has remained the #1 agent for the past decade for home sales in San Francisco’s Northside (which includes Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, the Marina, Russian Hill, and Sea Cliff) according to the MLS. Her extraordinary success results from her hard work, unwavering commitment to integrity, and always prioritizing her clients’ best interests. For the past 30+ years, Janet has taken this approach with every client, and it shows. She is consistently one of the top 25 Sotheby’s International Realty agents ranking in the top 1% of over 50,000 esteemed associates and is regularly named on the prestigious Wall Street Journal’s list of the Top Realtors in the U.S.A. When Haute Living published a list of the Bay Area’s Top Real Estate Power Brokers, Janet was labeled “The Professional,” a title that truly characterizes her approach to her career and her relationship with her clients.
Janet’s clients benefit from her unparalleled market knowledge and creative marketing concepts. She specializes in preparing and presenting properties for sale to assure her sellers maximize their returns. When representing buyers, she is quick to point out the hidden upside in a property as well as its drawbacks. Her clients enjoy her positive attitude and sense of humor during a process that is often beset with stress. Whether her clients seek a world-wide marketing strategy or a discreet private sale, Janet has the wisdom, resources, and experience to successfully negotiate and navigate the transaction.
Media frequently seek out Janet's opinion of the San Francisco real estate market. She is often quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Robb Report, Mansion Global, and local newspapers. She researches and writes the annual Schindler Report, which is published in San Francisco's Nob Hill Gazette, analyzing luxury real estate sales in San Francisco's Northside neighborhoods. In addition to her real estate writing, Janet has published articles on related areas of interest including gardening and architecture.
Janet graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in philosophy, emphasizing Asian philosophy, from Brandeis University and was a Regents Scholar at UCLA Law School. Her education and expertise add value to every real estate transaction. 90% of Janet's business comes from repeat clients and referrals because they know that she always puts clients' interests first. Janet Schindler is the trusted name in San Francisco real estate.